By Alex Lenferna, co-founder and general secretary of the Climate Justice Coalition – a 350 partner organisation in South Africa.
In South Africa, rolling scheduled blackouts have been a recurrent reality for years under our so-called “loadshedding” policy. This reality leaves millions of people without energy for several hours a day on a regular basis. The darkness deepens poverty, inequality and unemployment. The fastest and most affordable way to solve this crisis is by implementing a rapid and just transition away from coal and to renewable energy.
South Africa has the opportunity to transform our energy system and create a more socially and ecologically just future, if it takes the right decisions now. The President of the country has outlined a major investment plan to shift the country to a clean energy future. However, for that plan to truly deliver on climate justice, it is vital we leave expensive, polluting and outdated fossil fuels behind and put people – not profit – at the center of our just transition plan!
In the last years, together with 350.org, we have been leading many actions to ensure that justice and renewable energy are at the top of the agenda when the topic is South Africa’s energy system:
- We started the #UprootTheDMRE campaign, calling for an emergency renewable energy plan to end loadshedding, and to completely restructure the corporate-captured Department of Mineral Resources and Energy (DMRE).
- We held a People’s Tribunal, placing the DMRE on trial for their failure to transform and prioritise a sustainable energy system for South Africa.
- We organised a March for Jobs, Clean Energy, and Climate Justice during COP27, demanding measures to ensure energy access for all, fiscal and political policies for accelerating the energy transition, and transparent, inclusive and democratic processes for defining our national energy policies.
- We participated in several events, assemblies and meetings discussing South Africa’s just transition – including, for example, the Social Justice Assembly and the Townhall on Climate Finance.
- We have produced podcasts, award-winning satire that speaks truth to power, and we have got extensive coverage in mainstream media outlets in South Africa, reaching millions of people.
- This year, alongside all the campaigns and actions we are leading, we will also start a Climate Justice School to bring together activists from around the country to share our visions of a better future and help forge a united movement.
Our goal is to build a diverse, intersectional, and people-powered movement strong enough to overcome the corporations and politicians holding our future hostage. We want real solutions that tackle our ecological and economic crises and work for the many, not false solutions that serve the interest of the few.
We are growing our movement to transform South Africa and build a more socially and ecologically just future!
350.org is a founding member of the Climate Justice Coalition, and supports our campaigns with media and social media amplification, staff capacity and financial resources, as well as by providing fiscal and human resources infrastructure for our operations.