Hot on the heels of the Cop26 negotiations, where South Africa secured loans from the global north to aid it in its yet-to-be-properly-considered Just Transition, there is now a second announcement this week of intention for offshore oil&gas seismic surveys to be conducted on the east coast of South Africa.
Shell’s and CGG Services SAS’s announcements (https://oceansnotoil.org/2021/11/04/shell-to-blast-the-wild-coast-during-whale-migration-season/ ; https://oceansnotoil.org/2021/11/05/seismic-survey-between-pe-and-plett-please-comment/) came out of the blue, because their application clearances were secured in 2014, when the legislation imposing Environmental Impact Assessments(EIAs) for seismic surveys fell out of our law due to enabling amendments made by government’s One Environmental Plan for offshore Operation Phakisa. The rationalisations of environmental laws between the minerals and energy departments and the environmental one has a consequence of a big omission of care and precaution when dealing with seismic surveys. It also meant the lubrication of entry for Big Oil onto our coastline, since EIAs take time, money and require input from affected communities. Easy pickings for the likes of Shell, unless it faces an injunction from concerned parties.
Public pressure from concerned citizens and NGOs has since placed seismics back into legislation that insists on public participation and environmental reports to guide the process. Without public participation however Shell answers to whom when fish stocks are affected and whales start washing up? What local knowledge and heritage gets treated with impunity and disregard without engagement with those who know these living oceans?
At a time when our seas are drastically compromised can we afford to allow harms done in the name of chasing fossil fuels? These fuels will take years to get out of the seabed and accumulate more harms doing so on our beautiful coastline. What will our planet be like by the time this fuel goes to market? The latest tender processes for renewables have shown them to be far cheaper for the end user than hydrocarbons1, and to employ more people. Surely it’s a no brainer – its time for our minister of the environment, Barbara Creecy, to step in and put her mandate to protect our oceans for present and future generations before cadre enrichment. The alternative is more injunctions, appeals and time in court as more and more youth and NGOs say, “Enough!”
- Planting, S. 2021. Best plan to keep the lights on: Solar and wind power officially cheaper than coal, Nov 4, Daily Maverick. Available at<https://www.dailymaverick.co.za/article/2021-11-04-best-plan-to-keep-the-lights-on-solar-and-wind-power-officially-cheaper-than-coal/?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Business%20Maverick%20Friday%2005%20November%20StraussCo&utm_content=Business%20Maverick%20Friday%2005%20November%20StraussCo+CID_58c0e3e236cd68b0d780a50ad8201383&utm_source=TouchBasePro&utm_term=Best%20plan%20to%20keep%20the%20lights%20on%20Solar%20and%20wind%20power%20officially%20cheaper%20than%20coal>