22 November, Johannesburg — Today, Greenpeace Africa demanded more climate action from the South African government. Activists gathered in Gandhi Square to display a banner that read: “Government, All Eyes On You!” The organisation is calling for the South African government to use the recently approved just transition partnership, valued at R131 billion, to fast track the implementation of a just transition in South Africa. 

A just transition to renewable energy is the best and most immediate solution to many of South Africa’s woes, according to Greenpeace Africa. The country was recently spotlighted as having the highest unemployment rate in the world[1]; the air pollution crisis in Mpumalanga continues to threaten the lives and health of people living there[2]; load shedding continues to threaten the livelihoods of many; and, if urgent action is not taken, South Africa will not be spared the disastrous effects of the climate crisis, which will cause extreme weather events to grow more intense and less predictable[3]. 

“The South African government does not have a good track record when it comes to taking climate action or using money honestly. Now, they have been given billions of Rands to take climate action. They no longer have any excuses to remain inert. The time for climate action is now,” said Thandile Chinyavanhu, Greenpeace Africa Climate and Energy Campaigner. 

While failure to address the climate crisis could severely impact the socioeconomic prospects of many South Africans, taking climate action holds promise to change the lived realities of communities devastated by the impacts of coal. Greenpeace research has shown in the past that a just transition will contribute significantly to the creation of decent jobs[4]. Some political leaders continue to push for new coal investment[5], ignoring new research that this will only cause further unemployment down the line, in addition to locking South Africa into a high-emission trajectory[6].

What is clear is that there is no room for fossil fuels in the future. The South African government must get onboard with this, and fossil fuel majors such as Sasol must cease all greenwashing that positions other fossil fuels such as gas and hydrogen as solutions, as they may only address the needs of the country in a decade, and that is if they can procure enough gas to sustain their hydrogen model.

“There are so many South African lives that have been devastated by South Africa’s coal addiction. Many more will be devastated if the government does not seize this opportunity to be a leader on the continent and power the future with renewable energy. They need to feel our eyes on them, and they need to know that we are watching them closely.” 

Greenpeace Africa is calling on the South African government to do right by South Africans and do the right thing. The country has been given the financial means to make significant, ambitious changes that will protect its people from the impacts of the climate crisis. All that remains to be found is the political will to implement it.

ENDS

Notes to the editor 

[1] This is according to monitoring by Bloomberg.

[2] Greenpeace Africa found in 2019 that South Africa was a global hotspot for both NO2 and SO2 pollution. 

[3] These findings are drawn from a research report conducted by the Greenpeace International Science Unit. The report, Weathering The Storm, can be found here.

[4] Greenpeace Africa’s research on the just transition can be found here.

[5] Greenpeace Africa’s response to Minister Gwede Mantashe’s insistence on continued coal investment can be found here.

[6] This research, conducted by Energy Systems Research Group at the University of Cape Town, can be found here

Contact details

Greenpeace Africa Press Desk: [email protected] 

Chris Vlavianos,
Greenpeace Africa Communications Officer,
[email protected], +27798837036 

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