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Wake up!

This is the shake on the shoulder to tell you that the new dawn is here and there is much to be done. The ones shaking you will not rest, they say. They outnumber you. They make up more than half of the earth’s human population. They have risen and they will make you change yesterday’s fantasy of ‘permanent affluence’ requiring the burning of vast quantities of oil. They need your hands and your contribution to change the system, which is busy ploughing under bio-diversity, forests and leaving deserts. Even morning prayers to the right god will not kick out the oil-crutch from under you. It is they who will do it – today’s youth.

#Youth4ClimateActionDurban brought together young leaders from all over Kwa-Zulu Natal. They stepped forward and said, “I’m ready, I’ll do whatever it takes”. The Whatsapp prep group pinged day and night. Together they formulated their memorandum, from leader of South African Youth Climate Change Coalition, Fah Khulekani’s sophisticated framework to schoolgirl Sarah Strachen saying, “I want to live in a world where our oceans don’t need saving and the only way to do that is to create a world where our oceans don’t need saving. “ 

Mendy-Lisa Ndlovu, climate change focused PhD student, took to the radio waves along with Siyabonga Nontlanga from the Bremen-Durban Ocean Champions program and Khalid Mather, ever vocal in the Oceans Not Oil campaign.  Their message was clear: Decision and policy makers are failing us. We urgently need solutions to climate change issues to solve this crisis, and it is solvable, together.

Durban’s march was in solidarity with the global #FridaysforFuture strikes taking place in 2052 places, in 123 countries on all continents, including Antarctica. Twelve year old Kelly Jade Heunis led a seated salute to Greta Thunberg outside the Durban City Hall: “I am striking for climate change and global warming. I want to live long and have children + grandchildren. I want to be able to not worry about my future children and their future. So please help make our planet Earth healthy and clean.”

“Wake up!”, demanded Durban Youth of representative for the Department of Energy, Zukiswa Mthimkulu, as she focused on her cellphone during the memorandum (below) hand-over. Is this how you want to be remembered Ms. Mthimkulu? Lizzy Laurenz, 9, showed her what commitment looks like when she stood with Mendy- Lisa during the reading of youth demands. Mthimkulu refused to sign the dotted line believing she had “no mandate to” and promised to forward it to the Director General.

The future is your choice, as well as your fate. Durban Youth have defined the future they want and asked it of both the Dept of Energy and the Department of Mineral Resources (see below):

Youth 4 Climate Action Durban March
Memorandum presented to the Department of Energy
By the Youth of Durban
together with Oceans Not Oil, Earthlife Africa Durban, South African Youth Climate Change Coalition, South Durban Community Environment Alliance, WildoceansSA, FrackFreeSA, People’s Climate Durban, 350.org, Youth for MPA’s and Extinction Rebellion South Africa 

The issue of climate change has become an urgent crisis and we the youth are demanding action from the Department of Mineral Resources. We are marching along with thousands of other young people across the globe, united by the fact that we all share the same future. We are here to tell you, the Department of Energy, to “WAKE UP”. 

After 20 years of talk about climate change, this Energy Department still is not effectively tackling climate change and the consequences will be irreversible. We call on the Department of Energy to meet the ambitions of a decarbonized future and to immediately align with the science of climate change. We have listed our demands, which you should heed as we will inherit what you put into place today. We, the youth, will be around longer than you “adults” and so we will suffer the worst from your inaction.

We demand clean energy!
-We demand an end to the building of all new coal-fired power stations.
-We demand the closing down of aging, pollution emitting power stations.
-We demand no more new investment in coal mining, oil and gas development and fracking.
-We demand strict policies and regulations against the private and industry sector’s environmental emissions. We demand practical transformation as a result of their implementation.
We need to reinforce the use of alternative energy sources because coal and gas are not the future. Our atmosphere and biosphere have had enough therefore, we can’t carry on like it is business as usual. 
-We demand a switch to clean, safe, carbon-free renewable energy to stop climate change.
-We demand that all Energy Department projects line up with the latest science and that the Energy Department commitments to solving the crisis are urgent with deep cuts in emissions.

People are dying. We have seen with our own eyes the devastating impacts of climate change with droughts, floods, wild-fires, water shortages and crop failures leading to famine, especially in less resilient communities. This goes against human rights and intergenerational equity. We are the young, we are human and we are the future. 

South Africa gives lip-service to peaking by 2025, but continues to invest in coal, gas and oil. That is going to make the world a dangerous place for us to live in. South Africa has twice the global greenhouse gas emissions per person. We are accumulating climate debt. If all the governments had similar targets, global temperatures would reach 3-5° C by 2100. Maybe you won’t be around then but we will! Our future is in your hands – don’t steal it from us. 

We demand dialogue!
The reality is that Africa is made up largely of a youthful population, yet the will and presence of that fact is not represented in most decision making structures of government. Youth are able to bring innovation, energy and, more recently, academic support to these decision making structures. This is why we demand to have a bilateral avenue of communication opened with the Department of Energy and affiliated government representatives in the near future in order to deliberate and hopefully realize our demands.

Youth 4 Climate Action Durban March
Memorandum presented to the Department of Mineral Resources
By the Youth of Durban
together with Oceans Not Oil, Earthlife Africa Durban, South African Youth Climate Change Coalition, South Durban Community Environment Alliance, WildoceansSA, FrackFreeSA, People’s Climate Durban, 350.org, Youth for MPA’s and Extinction Rebellion South Africa

The issue of climate change has become an urgent crisis and we the youth are demanding action from the Department of Mineral Resources. We are marching along with thousands of other young people across the globe, united by the fact that we all share the same future. We want to enjoy life as you have, and let our children and grandchildren enjoy the all of the amazing natural world. We want to have a fun, friendly future and that is why we are freeing our voices. Listen to us today! We can no longer sleep walk into environmental collapse. We are here to tell you to “WAKE UP”.

We have listed our demands, which you should heed as we will inherit what you put into place today.

We demand an end to all fossil fuels!
South Africa has committed to significantly reduce its greenhouse gas emissions. We demand no more new investment into coal. Burning coal for electricity is a chief cause of devastating climate change and mining coal harms the youth in surrounding communities.

We demand an end to oil and gas exploration off our coast. We are marching because we want to live in a world where our oceans don’t need saving. We do not want oil companies destroying our future! Exploring for oil and gas risks our entire coastline and could have devastating impacts on marine life, and on our tourism and fishing industries. Think of the people and planet before profits.

We demand renewables!
We demand youth employment in development of the renewable energy sector, rather than the fossil-fuel sector. This must happen immediately.

Gas is methane, which is worse than carbon dioxide for our future. We demand clean, safe, carbon-free renewable energy to stop climate change.

No more destructive extraction!
We demand that you leave the Karoo Basin and KwaZulu Midlands alone and do not frack these lands.Fracking pollutes the water, a precious resource – water is life! Fracking causes climate change by releasing greenhouse gases. We demand clean water tables.
We demand the implementation of rehabilitation of the land, rivers, seas and society after all mining. There are more than 6,000 mines that require rehabilitation through the government willpower. We demand these are attended to immediately. They produce acid mine drainage and its effects are devastating as it leaches into aquifers or flows into rivers and streams. It sterilizes soils and contaminates food crops, puts plants and animals at risk, and is dangerous to human health. Destructive mining has traumatized a large portion of our fellow South African youth in the rural areas and we will not let them suffer in silence!

Take Responsibility and help us save the future!
South Africa has a high carbon debt! We are emitting twice the global average of greenhouse gases per person. We are the 14th most carbon polluting Country in the world and number ONE in Africa.

We value education that is why we fight so hard for it. When expert people who come out of the education system and advise us about the dangers of climate change we listen, as we the youth of today understand the value in education. That is why we demand that all Department of Mineral Resources projects align with the latest and best science and that the Department of Mineral Resources commits to solving the crisis by implementing urgent, deep cuts in emissions.

South Africa is an arid country, we are prone to the effects of climate change and will feel double the stress due our geography and history. The wrath of these subjects is coming to school South Africa, but we the youth are the only ones who will be really taught a lesson. Our future is in your hands – don’t steal it from us.

We demand dialogue!
The reality is that Africa is made up largely of a youthful population, yet the will and presence of that fact is not represented in most decision making structures of government. Youth are able to bring innovation, energy and, more recently, academic support to these decision making structures. This is why we demand to have a bilateral avenue of communication opened with the Department of Mineral Resources and affiliated government representatives in the near future to deliberate and realize our demands.





One thought on “Wake up! Leave a comment

  1. Have just read one of the most important documents ever to have crossed my screen. About time that the message went out to the world. So who is going to take it further? What newspaper, organization or political party is going to support you?
    Now is the most important time, before the elections, before it is too late, for the country for the continent for the World!
    What about the poor, those that have no voice. Who will speak up for those that have the most to lose, but know so little about the importance of these issues being discussed. Who will speak on their behalf? Let us hear you NOW.
    God bless you.

    Like

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