Have You Seen these Animals?

Climate Refugee "Animals" Highlight Climate Change in Africa

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Feature story - December 3, 2010
Today Greenpeace activists, dressed as polar bears and big five animals , gathered at Johannesburg's Gandhi square to highlight climate change. They held banners reading “My house in the Arctic melted” and “Water hole dried-up, need new home”.

The climate refugee “animals” have also been spotted outside the Department of Home Affairs, and at busy intersections across the city over the past two weeks.

Greenpeace Africa wanted to emphasize the urgency of climate change during the current round of international climate talks in Mexico, and ahead of next year's negotiations in Durban.

"Home melted, looking for any work to help feed my family"

300 million Africans face water scarcity. By 2025 half of the world's population is also expected to face water shortage.

"Hungry,lonely, lost, confused. Need some ice and fish"

This bear was seen in Gandhi square, Johannesburg. Many pedestrians were sympathetic to his message, asking why he doesn't go back home.

Climate Change in Africa

“We are already witnessing the impacts of climate change. The polar ice-caps are melting, which is severly affecting polar bear habitat. In South Africa, the big five are also likely to be affected by increased droughts due to climate change", said Greenpeace’s Nkopane Maphiri.

"But climate change is also about people, it’s about the future and it’s about today. Already in Africa farmers are most vulnerable, experiencing losses in harvests as water gets scarcer."

"The animals were an appealing way to symbolise the plight of women and men in Africa.”

He added “our government should do all they can to prevent dangerous climate change.”

The animals were warmly received by commuters and pedestrians, curious to know what their message was. Some went so far as to contact radio stations to find out what was going on.

Other Events

In addition to its climate refugees, Greenpeace Africa has organized several activities to coincide with the Cancun talks. These include a seminar on South Africa's energy supply, as well as a photo exhibition visualising the impacts climate change is already having in Africa.

As part of the Global Day of Action, supporters and activists will also gather on 4th December to create a human banner to illustrate that the climate is in crisis, and that it needs urgent attention.

“Catastrophic climate change is not inevitable. We have an opportunity both in Cancun and next year in South Africa to push for a green economy that creates sustainable jobs; we need to pursue an energy revolution, which seeks to promote the use of renewable energy such as wind and solar power and increased energy efficiency. More importantly, every single person can and should act in the fight for a sustainable energy future” said to Maphiri.