This year, the world worked towards recovering from a global pandemic, cautiously optimistic that we would find new footing on a journey towards a just recovery. We did not relent on our call for a socially and environmentally just society – if anything, we stood stronger! Now, as we reflect on the progress we have made in 2021, we would like to look back at the top moments we’ve accomplished together with partners and allies this past year – moments we should all be proud of and thankful for:

The Global Just Recovery Gathering that took place from 9 to 11 April was a celebratory moment that saw people from over 150 countries come together for interactive workshops, cultural sessions, and hands-on trainings that would help plant the seed of global solidarity, ushering in new energy in this crucial movement to halt the climate crisis. One of the key take-aways from this was that climate justice is inextricably tied to the fights against racism, inequality, and hate – and moments like the Global Just Recovery Gathering remind us that we need to keep showing up, and to take a stand against both hateful, divisive political rhetoric and the willful denial of the multiple intersecting crises we’re facing.

Activists from Dakar, Senegal hold signs in support of DRC activists who are fighting for a Fossil Free Virunga

Fossil Free Virunga: As the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) celebrated 61 years of independence from Belgian colonial rule, a short film titled “Fossil Free Virunga” was released, highlighting opposition to fossil fuel exploration in the sensitive ecosystems of Virunga National Park. Together with the Virunga petition, this would help put more pressure on the relevant authorities to stop fossil fuel exploration in Virunga – Africa’s oldest national park which has been under threat since the government issued licenses for oil exploration in the park.

In September 2021, after gathering more than 9000 signatures, environmental activists and community members in the DRC delivered the petition to parliamentarians calling for a halt to oil exploration in Virunga National Park, to be delivered to President Felix Tshisekedi. 

Young people adding their voice to the Uproot The DMRE protest.

#UprootTheDMRE: Also in September, hundreds of people representing dozens of civil society organisations marched to Department of Mineral Resources and Energy (DMRE) offices, in every province across South Africa, under the banner #UprootTheDMRE. This was a powerful and amazing moment for all those who participated and united to #UprootTheDMRE. This was just the beginning – there is so much more to do.

What prompted this march? Minister Mantashe and the DMRE continue to fail in their responsibilities to the people of South Africa, driving forward a heavily polluting, extremely harmful, and dysfunctional energy and mining agenda. In the face of this deep injustice, it is clear that the DMRE needs to be transformed to ensure a more socially, economically and environmentally just future. 

Total Knew actions in Nairobi

#TotalKnew: Activists from the DRC, Togo, and Kenya took part in actions targeting Total following research released on 20 October detailing that almost 50 years back, Total made the choice to overlook the impact of their core business on the Earth’s climate. In that research, three historians reveal that the managers and employees of TotalEnergies were warned of the possibility of unprecedented climate change due to the production of fossil fuels as early as 1971. To highlight these revelations, the organisations Notre Affaire à Tous and launched a campaign calling on public authorities to hold them accountable, and major banks to cut their ties with Total.

Climate clock and letter delivery to President Nana Akufo-Addo during COP26

#RE4C: Climate defenders of the #RE4C campaign from Ghana presented a Climate Clock and a set of demands to President Akufo-Addo, during a ceremony at the Ghana Pavilion inside the formal negotiating space at COP26, Glasgow. An audience with the President allowed them to deliver the set of demands calling for the government of Ghana to commit to 30% renewable energy within its energy mix by 2030. The climate defenders of Ghana continue to put pressure on the government to commit to lower emissions and mobilising support for the Renewable Energy for Communities campaign in order to put Ghana well on its way to a clean energy future.

Activists protesting during COP26

COP26:Going to Glasgow,  climate activists from the most vulnerable countries who were able to make it had a ‘red line’ requesting global leaders to ensure heating stays below 1.5 °C. Though the final agreement is not enough to solve the climate crisis, there were some positive outcomes in Glasgow. For the first time at a COP, politicians included the global phase-down of the most polluting fossil fuel – coal- and the ending of fossil fuels subsidies. This is a significant step towards the right direction. 

As Africa prepares to host the next climate talks in Egypt, we must ensure that the summit delivers for Africa and the most vulnerable nations. Together we will make sure that adaptation solutions, loss and damages, reparations, just transition, finance and technology transfer aren’t just simple keywords but are better reflected in the outcome document as the guiding principles of real climate justice and clean energy access.