#YouthDemandClimateJustice over Youth Day Weekend

Under the banner of the African Climate Alliance, Capetonian school children protested on Friday 14th June, ahead of Youth Day, asking adults and leaders to take steps to protect their future from climate and ecological breakdown.

Youth in other parts of South Africa including Gauteng, Eastern Cape, KZN and Mpumlanaga also came together to demand climate justice in light of Youth Day, making the weekend (one of, if not) the biggest youth mobilisations for climate justice in South African history.

African Climate Alliance Youth Leaders lead the march from Parliament to the Grand Parade with a banner in isiXhosa, Afrikaans and English: “System Change Not Climate Change.”

In early May, while the UK Parliament declared a climate emergency and invited youth leaders into meetings with politicians, our national elections proceeded with barely a mention of climate change.  South Africans are vulnerable, yet our politicians don’t appear to care.

Overwhelming scientific consensus* indicates that we only have until 2030 to decarbonise our economies to avert the worst climate catastrophe and chaos. Global overheating is increasing the threat of drought, wildfire, floods, disease, food insecurity and total economic collapse. Water shortages, hunger and health risks resulting from extreme weather will impact South Africa and Africa’s poor the most. If we continue to burn coal and move too slowly towards renewable energy and ecosystem restoration, the continent could soon be facing an unprecedented exodus of eco-refugees and resource wars.

On Friday 15th March, 2000 school children gathered outside Parliament for the first global Climate Strike. That evening Cyclone Idai hit the Southern African east coast, killing 1000 people across Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe and destroying 90% of buildings in Beira. Less than six weeks later, Cyclone Kenneth hit the same coastline, destroying 2500 homes in the Cabo Delgado province around Pemba. It was the first time in history that two hurricanes of such force have hit Mozambique in the same season. 3 million people were left in need of humanitarian assistance.

The youth of African Climate Alliance have thus handed over the following demands to the government:

1. Declare that there is a Climate Emergency; and so,

2. Put a moratorium in place on all new coal, gas and oil mining licences

3. Convert the electricity sector to run off 100% renewable energy by 2030

4. Create a mandatory education curriculum about the effects of the Climate Crisis on our country

Matthew Pedie, one of the lead members of African Climate Alliance Youth hands over the demands to Marian Nieuwoudt, Mayco member for Spatial Planning and Environment. Nieuwoudt confirmed that the demands would be handed over to both provincial and national government.

About African Climate Alliance

The African Climate Alliance is a recently formed affinity group of youth, adults and organisations in response to the current climate and ecological crises we face and the lack of action being taken by those in power.  The alliance was formed after the first big Climate Strike held in Cape Town on March 15th 2019 in order to unify efforts to mitigate and adapt to the climate crisis which is disproportionately affecting the poor of the global south.

The African Climate Alliance is youth centred and driven and aims to support grassroots action against the climate crisis and other systemic injustices. The youth wing currently has over 200 members from four different African countries. Supporting organisations include Fossil Free SA, 350Africa.org, Project 90 by 2030, Greenpeace Africa, One Million Climate Jobs, Green Anglicans, Princess Vlei Forum, Extinction Rebellion Cape Town, Earthchild Project and eMzantsi Carnival, among others.

* The scientific consensus: The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has determined that only global carbon emissions cuts of 45% by 2030, and 100% by 2050 (from a 2010 baseline) can avert catastrophic climate breakdown, making hundreds of millions of people more vulnerable to food insecurity, extreme weather, and the complete destruction of coral reefs.

Photos by Ryan Fortune

African Climate Alliance Youth

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