With the coming of the New Year, many of us take a moment to pause and reflect. We reflect on the triumphs and lows of the previous year, on the ways in which we’ve grown and how far we’ve come. We reflect as a way to look at the year ahead, to bolster our spirits and move with intentionality and a fresh outlook. 

From the meteoric rise of renewables around the world – the epic fights in Lamu that have mobilised people across Kenya – to activists in DR Congo putting pressure on the Congolese government to stop oil exploitation in the Virunga — we have seen the rise of incredible mobilizations throughout the year. 2019 has been a year of determined calls for climate action, and a vision for where we can be this time next year. 

For this final blog of 2019, I’m taking you back to some of the highlights of this impressive year of climate action. Below are my top 5 moments of 2019

Number 5

Financing the Future. In early September delegations from Africa, Asia, India, Latin America, Australia, the United States and Europe came together in Cape Town, South Africa for an interactive two-day programme that showcases how the Divest-Invest movement can and is accelerating the clean energy transition by mobilizing capital out of fossil fuels and into climate solutions.  

The global movement to divest from fossil fuel companies and invest in climate solutions announced a major milestone, as the total assets pledged to divestment crossed Eleven Trillion Dollars (US).

Number 4

Local climate action shined bright in 2019. In May, we witnessed a powerful force from communities across Africa taking the lead on climate action. From Tanzania to Benin, from Johannesburg to Abidjan. Under the #AfrikaVuka banner, people rose to demand that our governments stand on the right side of history and stop supporting the companies causing the climate crisis. 

While a few other events were cancelled due to their ‘political’ nature, these obstructions by authorities paled in comparison to how communities showed leaders the way to fight climate change. 

Number 3

The year of the big AfDB promise. The African Development Bank (AfDB) announced in November they will not fund a coal-fired power plant project in Kenya and has no plans to finance new coal plants in the future. 

The AfDB has been one of the major funders of coal projects in Africa. In the past decade, it has lent billions of dollars to coal projects in South Africa and Senegal. Having such a big coal financier pull out from coal investments was a definite Christmas Coming Early moment for the climate movement.

Number 2

Another one. In a historic move, the Kenyan National Environmental Management Authority (NEMA) said the Lamu coal-plant project couldn’t go ahead.

After years of grassroots organizing and creative campaigning from the climate movement, the licence to build the Lamu Coal plant had been revoked! This was good news for the climate movement and specifically for the Lamu people who have been at the forefront of the contentious court battles, and other communities fighting against devastating fossil fuel projects across the continent

Number 1

We saw what bold action looks like. The week of Global Climate Strikes in September was on par with the 2003 anti-Iraq war protest as one of the largest coordinated global protests in History. Millions of students, parents, trade unions, businesses, health workers, scientists, celebrities, people of all backgrounds, ages, regions and faiths in Africa and across the globe came together to call for climate action. Over 7.6 million people, more than 6,100 events were held in 185 countries, with the support of 73 Trade Unions, 820 civil society organizations, 3,000 companies and 8,500 websites. Massive!

That’s a wrap!

And as always, there are so many more inspiring stories of people taking action that couldn’t possibly fit in here but there is no doubt that the climate movement is a powerful force for change. It is clear that this is a climate crisis, and business as usual is no longer an option. 

As we wrap up an amazing year, if there’s one thing to take into 2020, it is that people power is a vital force that’ll stop the fossil fuel industry from going ahead with their risky expansion plans that are set to push us into total climate breakdown.


Author: Chris Kif, 350 Africa Digital Campaign Manager.

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