The African Climate Alliance is planning protests on Friday in Cape Town alongside similar marches planned elsewhere in the world to demand urgent action to tackle the climate crisis.
In a statement on Tuesday organisers said as an alternative to in-person protests, which will be muted this year due to Covid-19, participants could digitally support the marches by using their social media to demand climate justice and a “just recovery” from the global health pandemic.
The African Climate Alliance, a youth-led group advocating for climate, ecological and social justice which organised climate change protests in Cape Town last year, said its activists would march on Friday in conjunction with other civil society organisations.
These include the Climate Justice Coalition – a coalition of over twenty unions, civil society, grassroots and community-based organisations, of which the African Climate Alliance is part.
“We want system change now. We are calling on the government to take ambitious climate action, beyond talk,” the alliance’s youth coordinator Gabriel Klaasen said.
“We can no longer have an economy powered by coal, which drives gross inequality when coal generators continually fail, waste water, pollute the air and emit CO2 (carbon dioxide).”
African Climate Alliance spokesperson Ayakha Melithafa attended the World Economic Forum last year and was one of 15 children who submitted a groundbreaking legal complaint alleging that United Nations member states’ failure to tackle the climate crisis constituted a violation of child rights.
This February, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa singled her out in his state of the nation address, promising her that no African child would be left behind in the transition to a low-carbon, climate-resilient and sustainable society, driven by a presidential commission on climate change.
On Tuesday Melithafa said there was no point in having a commission on climate change “if coal remains at the heart of our economy, if the change is too incremental to address the real urgency of the problem”.
“It’s time to address problems with real action. To finally address social and environmental concerns simultaneously whilst recovering from the devastation of Covid-19,” she added.