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Environmental Activists Rally Against Oil and Gas Industry at CTICC

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By Lee-Yandra Paulsen

Environmental justice organizations gathered outside the Cape Town International Convention Centre (CTICC) to protest the Southern African oil and gas conference on Wednesday, 13 September 2023. Their aim was to demand climate justice and resist the influence of oil and gas corporations.

People of all ages joined the protest to express their concerns for the environment. Jacqui Tooke from Extinction Rebellion Cape Town emphasized the need to address the growing presence of oil and gas companies in Southern Africa.

“It seems there’s a significant push for oil and gas development on our continent, in our lands, and our oceans. We’re here today to send a clear message to the South African government and the fossil fuel industry that their obsession with oil and gas comes with severe and deadly consequences,” Tooke stated.

Tooke also highlighted the existence of promising research and pathways toward clean, safe, and people-centered energy security. She called not only on the South African government but on governments worldwide to halt investments and subsidies to the fossil fuel industry.

The primary goal of the protest was to raise awareness over the ongoing oil and gas conference and to advocate for a halt in oil and gas exploration due to its contribution to climate change, according to Cele Esua, a Social Justice lay Leader at the Cape Town Unitarians.

“We firmly oppose new investments in fossil fuels and urge a shift toward renewable energy sources such as hydro, wind, and solar power,” added Esua.

The demonstration underscored the growing global concern over the environmental impact of fossil fuels and the urgency of transitioning to cleaner energy alternatives.

Muslim perspective on protecting the environment.

Coordinator for the Energy Storage Graduate Program at the University of the Western Cape (UWC) and Founder of Green New World, Ridaa Manuel, delivered a powerful message on the importance of environmental stewardship within the Muslim community. He emphasized that neglecting the Earth’s sanctity could lead to natural disasters that disrupt the delicate balance created by the Creator.

“In essence, if we, as Muslims, do not uphold the sanctity of the Earth, it may, in turn, respond with natural disasters. The Earth was meticulously crafted in perfect harmony, where every element is interconnected,” Manuel stated.

Manuel continued to express concern about the global rise in natural disasters, attributing these events to the disruption of Earth’s balance caused by human activities.

Switching to renewable energy emerged as a solution to multiple challenges, according to Manuel. He highlighted the reduction of carbon dioxide emissions, which, in turn, would stabilize the Earth’s temperature. Manuel also stressed that renewable energy would grant access to the abundant energy of nature for the people of Africa, improving lives and preserving the planet’s sanctity.

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