About 50 activists led by the Extinction Rebellion, picketed outside the Gauteng Legislature in the Joburg CBD on Friday afternoon, calling on government to declare a climate emergency.
Some of them displayed posters which read: Greed kills our world, Tomorrow is too late, Capitalism is the problem and No action, no future.
Gauteng Extinction Rebellion coordinator, Sunny Morgan, said the march was part of a larger campaign to speak the truth about climate change, and ensure that the future of the country is in the hands of responsible people.
The demands were for government to declare a climate emergency, act immediately to halt biodiversity loss, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions through a just transition that protects workers and vulnerable people.
“We are here to send a clear message that they can no longer ignore the voices of ordinary people,” said Morgan.
He said the organisation has written letters and memorandums to national government but “those letters died a gentle death somewhere”.
“As long as they fail to respond and engage, we will be making our voices heard, until government not only engages with us, but engage with us responsibly. And the objective with that is the declaration of a climate emergency,” he said.
He said declaring a climate emergency would allow for more resources to be allocated to tackle climate justice.
He said the campaign would extend to the private sector, especially banks that are funding industries and projects that are detrimental to the environment.
Raeesah Noor Mahomed, a matriculant at Parktown Girls High has been boycotting school every Friday to raise awareness for climate change. She said she has been following the climate justice movement and has attended marches.
“But in December and January when the Australian fires were happening, I was looking into my matric year, supposedly the most important year of my life, and I couldn’t understand how I could carry on with matric like everything was normal because it’s not,” said Mahomed.
She said if natural disasters, like the fires in Australia had to happen in South Africa, the country would not be able to recover and the effects would be devastating.
Inspired by the teenage Swedish environmental activist Greta Thunberg, Mahomed said she decided to boycott Friday classes until the government declares a climate emergency and acts on it.
Munnira Katongole, also a Parktown Girls learner, said she is inspired by Mahomed and decided to join her Friday protests. “It is important for young people to be at the forefront of the climate change movement because it largely affects youth. I think it’s so pathetic to draft policies and strategies without the voices of young people when we make up the majority of the country,” she said. GroundUp