Activists protest as huge oil and gas conference gets underway in Cape Town

“Gas and oil and nuclear don’t need to be in our energy mix”

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Activists called for a halt to fossil fuel development outside the Southern African Oil and Gas Conference which opened in Cape Town on Wednesday. Photo: Mary-Anne Gontsana

Activists protested against oil and gas development outside the Cape Town International Convention Centre (CTICC) on Wednesday, as the Southern African Oil and Gas Conference got underway.

The protesters included members of Southern African Faith Communities Environment Institute (SAFCEI), the Climate Justice Charter Movement, Feed the Future for Life and Extinction Rebellion.

About 80 protesters sang and danced outside the centre. Some wore chicken masks and held placards which read “Fossil fuels: Your chickens have come home to roost”.

SAFCEI’s Lydia Petersen said they were protesting against the push by the South African government for the extraction of more oil and gas from the ocean. “Our stance as SAFCEI is that there are other options available which we should explore. Gas and oil and nuclear don’t need to be in our energy mix,” said Petersen.

Jacqui Tooke, from Extinction Rebellion Cape Town, said: “We are saying to those decision-makers in the CTICC from the Southern Africa Oil and Gas Conference, that their decisions have consequences.”

“Scientists are very clear that when we burn fossil fuels it releases carbon emissions which causes this climate change that gives us this extreme weather. We want to amplify the scientists’ alarm. We can’t keep carrying on with the obsession with oil and gas.”

“So we are standing in solidarity with communities who are calling for our government to stop investing in fossil fuels, and to invest in socially-owned renewables so that we can transition away from oil and gas,” said Tooke.

In their memorandum, the organisations demanded: a halt to new investments in oil, gas, nuclear and coal; that all governments withdraw subsidies from fossil fuel industries and redirect the money to socially-owned renewable energy transitions; that the United Nations establish an “End Fossil Fuel Treaty” to make sure fossil fuel corporations pay a carbon debt for the harm they have caused; that poor countries be compensated for a problem they did not create; and that the oil, coal and gas industries be shut down in the next ten years or sooner.

One of the younger protesters, a Grade 11 learner from Mfuleni Technical Academy, Anelisa Maquba, said with the help of the Environmental Monitoring Group learners had been going around their communities to raise awareness about a cleaner and greener environment.

“We do regular clean-ups. We complained about the lack of bins at our school which causes littering, now we have them. We now practice recycling as well. Us being here also shows that we are taking a stand against waste, pollution, oil and gas,” said Maquba.

TOPICS:  Environment

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