Climate Change in South Africa: Who are the Carbon Criminals?
South Africa’s youth infotainment show, Politically Aweh, in partnership with European Union co-funded Action 24 – Active Citizens for Responsive Legislatures, is releasing the second episode of its video series on the climate crisis in Mzansi.
The first episode looked at how badly climate change is affecting South Africa. And it’s bad, very bad actually. But young – and not so young – South Africans seem too busy with other issues to think about the climate crisis. In fact, 59% of us have never heard of the term climate change, according to an Afrobarometer report from August 2019.
Watch Episode 2
With “awehness” at a shocking low, big greenhouse gas emitters and government are literally getting away with murder. “Any new investment into new fossil fuel projects must be understood as an investment into the death of our children”, says South African activist Kumi Naidoo. And South Africa is definitely a carbon criminal: it is Africa’s largest contributor of carbon emissions, and 14th biggest carbon polluter in the world.
Two companies alone, Sasol and Eskom, pump more than half of South Africa’s entire carbon emissions today. Sasol’s coal-to-liquid plant, Secunda, is the single largest point source of carbon dioxide emissions anywhere on Earth. Air pollution from Eskom’s coal fired power plants kills more than 2,200 South Africans every year.
So what is the South African government doing about this? Prepare to be disappointed. Despite promises to cut carbon emissions under the 2015 Paris Agreement, calls for the country to “act with greater urgency”, and the recent adoption of a carbon tax, government is not trying hard enough. It continues to do the exact opposite by promoting and celebrating new fossil fuel projects – knowing very well that they are responsible for 90% of heat-trapping carbon emissions. With South Africa’s main climate change plan rated ‘highly insufficient’ by Carbon Action Tracker, President Ramaphosa’s “Good Green Deeds” is not exactly going to cut it.
While government continues to hide its coal addiction behind the “development” excuse, time is running out. As Goldman Environmental prize winner and activist Makoma Lekalakala pointed out in an interview with host, Zipho Majova, what we are need now is “the political will from those who are in government”, and “people’s action to improve the situation”. This is why a new generation is asking for the fight against climate change be turned into a fight for a system change.
Through its signature infotainment style videos, Politically Aweh joins over 300 news outlets around the world that have signed up to Covering Climate Now to be part of “one of the most ambitious efforts to organise the world’s media around a single topic and run as much high-quality climate coverage as possible’’.
Politically Aweh’s three climate change episodes explore how bad the crisis is in South Africa, whether political parties and government are doing enough, who the main carbon criminals are, and what the youth is doing to hold these criminals to account. The short explainer videos are published to the platform’s social media channels and to the Daily Maverick website in September 2019.
On the 26th of September, Politically Aweh is hosting a livestream broadcast from the University of Cape Town’s television studio, where youth activist Ayakha Melithafa and Tatenda Muponde, a candidate attorney at the Centre for Environmental Rights, will engage in a panel discussion on climate action in South Africa. Ayakha is a YouLead Warrior and a member of the African Climate Alliance, and is also one of 15 youth around the world joining Greta Thunberg in filing a landmark climate change complaint to the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child. Set a reminder to watch the live stream on Facebook or Youtube.
A 26 minute episode of highlights of the full month of climate coverage will also be broadcast via Cape Town TV (DStv channel 263) on Saturday September 28th at 6:30PM, and the videos will be shown during the Climate Diplomacy Week organised by the European Union delegation to South Africa on Wits campus from 30 September to 5 October 2019.
Disclaimer: This web page was created with the financial support of the European Union. Its contents are the sole responsibility of the African Climate Reality Project and do not necessarily reflect the views of the European Union.