Focusing on climate activism in South Africa, the final instalment unpacks how a new generation of youth activists follow in their parents’ footsteps in the struggle against what the United Nations Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights has dubbed “climate apartheid: where the wealthy pay to escape overheating, hunger, and conflict, while the rest of the world is left to suffer.”
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The episode features guest interviews with youth climate activist Ayakha Melithafa, and Tatenda Muponde, a lawyer from South Africa’s Centre for Environmental Rights, a legal non-profit fighting the climate crisis in the courts – and winning!
Witnessing how the devastating drought that nearly had Cape Town’s taps run dry last year wreaked havoc on her community, 17-year-old Melithafa tells us she “felt compelled to do more, especially as a person of colour”. A key figure in South Africa’s youth-led climate movement, in September 2019 she joined Greta Thunberg and 15 other youth from around the world in submitting a legal complaint about the climate crisis to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child.
Viewers can expect the usual mix of relatable humour, on the ground reporting, and insightful interviews that fans of the show have come to love. Presenter Zipho Majova takes us into the heart of the September 2019 climate strikes in Cape Town for a uniquely South African perspective on the global protest action. The team also chats to Amnesty International Secretary-General and vocal climate activist, Kumi Naidoo, who tells us he agrees with youth activists such as Thunberg when she says “the adults aren’t mature enough” to do what the science requires, and so “the kids are having to act like adults”.
Politically Aweh concludes this series by highlighting the tireless and often underappreciated efforts by local activists such as David Le Page and Tracey Davies, who are respectively championing climate action through divestment of fossil fuel company shares through Fossil Free South Africa, and shareholder activism through Just Share.
While the level of global climate action needed to stave off the worst of the crisis can seem an insurmountable challenge, a key takeaway from the episode is how each one of us has the power to successfully mobilise collective action. With millions of youth taking to the streets around the world and demanding “climate justice now” from governments and companies, change seems all but inevitable – “whether you like it or not,” as Thunberg says.
Part 1: Climate Change in South Africa: How Bad Can It Be?
This episode looked at how badly climate change is affecting South Africans and the lack of awareness of the issue in a country facing many pressing issues such as sky-high rates of unemployment, inequality, and gender-based violence. Meanwhile, the climate crisis is set to exacerbate many of these issues if not tackled urgently alongside them.
This second episode honed in on the country’s biggest climate polluters and the South African government’s failure to address the issue urgently with the bold climate action required by the global scientific community to mitigate the worst effects of a heating planet. While the role of individual consumer choices remains important, there is a growing awareness that system change is the only way to avoid dangerous climate breakdown and stick to the Paris Agreement’s ambitious goals.
A first of its kind live studio roundtable discussion on climate action in South Africa featuring youth climate activist Ayakha Melithafa, and environmental lawyer, Tatenda Muponde. The show was initially streamed live and included an interactive component, with guests taking questions from viewers online around the world. The show was edited for clarity and broadcast on TV in South Africa, and featured in a news insert on ITV News in the UK.
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