By now, we all know that climate change is no longer a distant threat—it’s here, and its impacts are unfolding right before our eyes in communities across South Africa. In recent weeks, weird weather, including a tornado in Kwa-Zulu Natal and snowfall in Johannesburg, has left witnesses and those directly affected grappling with mixed emotions. The strange weather we’ve been experiencing is a sign of a changing climate, and we must respond accordingly.

On the 12th of July, we joined members of the Climate Justice Coalition, activists, trade unionists, academics, affected communities, civil society and community-based organisations in Gqeberha to participate in a Just Transition Workshop. During two days of intense dialogue, we engaged in various aspects of South Africa’s Just Energy Transition and the pivotal role of communities in this crucial transition. 

JET dialogue

Together, we set out to answer the vital question: How do we ensure that the transition is just for communities that will be directly affected?

Some exciting conversations from the dialogue were streamed here.

One of the key themes that emerged during our discussions was “social ownership.” When it comes down to the Just Energy Transition, social ownership is about ensuring that communities benefit from the production of energy that is clean and sustainable.

In our current capitalist, extractive and polluting fossil-fuelled energy system, a small few private interests own and benefit from the means of energy production. By prioritising social ownership, we can replace a privatised energy system and create a sustainable, inclusive, and resilient energy system that leaves no one behind.

Social ownership is about empowering local communities to actively participate in shaping their energy future, fostering a sense of ownership and accountability.

It’s still early days for South Africa’s Just Energy Transition. More possibilities, challenges and opportunities for community-led just transition still need to be explored and unpacked. We must drive this crucial conversation forward. A socially owned renewable energy transition that is JUST places communities and the environment first – this is what our Just Energy Transition campaigning is about.

You can support our Just Energy Transition campaign by signing up here.

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