[Press Release]

Communities living with impacts of climate change hand petition of climate justice demands to Government ahead of President’s attendance at UN Climate Summit in New York on 23rd September

PRETORIA: South African communities and climate campaigners today handed a petition of climate justice demands to the Office of The Presidency at the Union Buildings in Pretoria.President Zuma will be joining global leaders at a United Nations Climate Summit in New York on the 23rd September, and the climate movement in South Africa is handing over a petition and list of demands calling on the South African Government to fight for climate justice.

The protest at the Union Buildings was joined by 350Africa.org, Avaaz, Greenpeace Africa, WWF, and community members from the Right 2 Know campaign and from the Soweto Electricity Crisis Committee.

A petition carrying a range of demands from 18 organisations was handed to a representative of the Office of the Presidency who confirmed that a response will follow from government.

Ferrial Adam, 350 Africa and Arab world Team leader said: “We can no longer wait for our leaders to act, climate change is happening right now and it is hurting our poorest communities. South Africa is being hit hard. More drought means higher food prices. Increasing temperatures mean water is becoming more scarce. And our addiction to coal means water gets poisoned and polluted and people suffer health issues. Today the climate movement comes together to say enough of the talk, now we will lead you President Zuma, hear our demands and fight for climate justice in New York”.

350Africa.org is calling for the President to show climate leadership by backing clean solar, wind and renewable energy. The following organisations, campaigners and local communities have added their own demands to the petition and are calling for action not words from the President:

  • 350Africa.org
  • BRICS from below, The Centre of Civil Society and the Green Community
  • BlueBuck Network
  • Ekurhuleni Community Organisation (ECO)
  • Gender CC Southern Africa
  • Greater Middleburg Residents Association
  • Greenpeace Africa
  • Ground Work
  • One Million Climate Jobs Campaign
  • Oxfam
  • Project 90 by 2030
  • Right 2 Know
  • South Durban Community Environmental Alliance (SDCEA)
  • Soweto Electricity Crisis Committee
  • Women’s Leadership and Training Programme (WLTP)
  • WWF


Note to Editors

For further information please contact the 350Africa.org Communications Team / Adi Mistry Frost / adi@350.org / +27767699302

Full Petition

HE Mr J Zuma

President of the RSA

℅ Office of the Presidency

Union Buildings

18 September 2014

Dear Mr President,

RE: Petition from Civil Society with national and international demands on climate change

As you are aware, Mr President,  Africa will be hardest hit by climate change.  The whole world is facing a climate crisis and we must all join the fight before it is too late. South Africa is one of the biggest emitters on the African continent and as such we have a moral obligation to reduce our emissions.

The safe amount of CO2in our atmosphere is 350 parts per million: we are already at over 400 ppm.  South Africa, a non-annex 1 developing country, is ranked among the top 20 countries measured by absolute carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. As such, Mr President,  now is the time for you to deliver on the many promises and policies that the South African government has made to fight climate change and protect the future of our people.

If we keep burning fossil fuels and releasing CO2, global temperatures will rise creating more and more extreme weather events and resulting in catastrophic climate change. The South African government’s current energy choices of coal, nuclear and fracking could lock us into a dirty polluted future. Not only is it a waste of money, but also has impacts on health, environment and human rights. The only solution is for dirty fossil fuels to stay in the ground and for the SA government to choose more clean solar and wind energy.

People across Africa are already fighting to survive more drought, floods and extreme weather that are making life harder than ever. We stand together with the communities living with the impacts of climate change right now:  the fisher folk whose catches are shrinking, the small scale farmers whose fields are drying up and the homeless who have lost everything to flash floods.  

The climate movement is growing in Africa and we are coming together with millions of people across the world as part of the People’s Climate March over the weekend of the 19th – 21st  September 2014 to call for global leaders to act now.

Mr President, listen to your people not the polluters. Now it is your turn to take our demands to the negotiating table. We call on you to show leadership in the fight against climate change and to fight for your people when you are in New York.

Demands from South African Civil Society to President Zuma:

350 Africa

  • Hold rich countries of the Global North accountable for starting climate change. Make sure they pay their fair share to help people in our countries adapt to climate change. But we must also deliver on our own promises to cut CO2 emissions
  • So we also demand that the South African government lead the way and increase our commitments on clean solar and wind power over dirty fossil fuels. (50% by 2030)

BRICS from below, The Centre of Civil Society and the Green Community here in Durban. The Cochabamba Agreement from the Rights of Mother Earth Conference.

  • A 50 percent reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 2017
  • Stabilizing temperature rises to 1°C and 300 parts per million
  • Acknowledging the climate debt owed by developed countries (6% of GDP)
  • Full respect for Human Rights and the inherent rights of indigenous people
  • Universal declaration of Mother Earth rights to ensure harmony with nature
  • Establishment of an International Court of Climate Justice
  • Rejection of carbon markets, and REDD’s commodifed nature and forests
  • Promotion of change in consumption patterns of developed countries, including change at an infrastructure level to include truly sustainable and decentralized models which support less developed economies in particular
  • End of intellectual property rights for climate technologies
  • An end to unsustainable, fossil fuel driven centralized agricultural practices; and the emergence of localized, chemical-free, non-GMO food production which cares for the earth as well as all people

BlueBuck Network demands that:

  • the world’s leaders consider the importance of intergenerational justice
  • the UNFCCC NGO engagement structures be reformed to allow civil society to really take ownership of the climate change negotiation process
  • that climate change action be immediate and global, but implemented on the local level
  • all social, legislative and economic tools be used to enable an immediate but progressive move away from fossil fuels

Ekurhuleni Community Organisation (ECO)

  • Stop mining coal and increase renewable energy as an alternative to coal

Gender CC Southern Africa

For GenderCC Southern Africa – Women for climate justice, we recognise that there is no gender justice without climate justice. We would like to urge all Parties to urgently work towards a global climate change agreement by 2015 which is the basis for any efforts to ensure that gender is integrated in the process.

We would like South African Government to ensure that:

  • The 2015 legal agreement should build on the progress already achieved under the Convention in incorporating gender equality into key decisions in the Cancun Agreement, the Durban Outcomes, Doha Gateway and the Warsaw Outcome
  • Gender equality should be a guiding principle of the new climate agreement
  • Gender should be incorporated as part of the cross cutting issues that the new climate agreement will recognize
  • All actions proposed for mitigation, adaptation, and means of implementation (finance, technology and capacity building) should follow a gender sensitive approach
  • Parties to favor ambitious contributions that support safe, equitable, environmentally sound, low carbon development pathways that respect gender considerations
  • Mitigation actions should respect gender equality while supporting economic activities and providing solutions towards poverty alleviation, with a particular focus on gender-equitable access to renewable energy resources and clean energy transportation
  • Long-term finance should include gender equality as criteria for funding allocation
  • Ensuring that the finance mechanism of the UNFCCC acknowledges and supports a gender sensitive approach in its two operating entities, the Green Climate Fund (GCF) and the Global Environment Facility (GEF)

Greater Middleburg Residents Association

  • The Highveld is a priority area and our demands are that we need to reduce pollution levels and stop the development of new coal power plants
  • Ensuring that all coal mines are de-commission and area rehabilitated 
  • Making sure that AMD is properly dealt with and cleaning up of contaminated areas (Olifants River,Middelburg  and Witbank Dam) and cleaning is done
  • Govt to ensure compliance and enforcement of relevant legislation (NEMA, etc) and reduce greenhouse gases
  • Stop displacement of people in agricultural farms and communities because it comprises their livelihoods and food security
  • We demand that current pollution levels be measured against the health and well-being of communities to determine improvements

Greenpeace Africa

  • The barriers to renewable energy need to be urgently dismantled in South Africa, and we should be rapidly increasing our ambition regarding investments in renewable energy (49% by 2030)
  • That new investments should be shifted away from coal and towards renewable energy

One Million Climate Jobs Campaign

  • We demand that the government treat climate change as a national emergency  
  • We call on the government to create at least 1 million climate jobs. These are decent jobs created by a large number of different public measures

The costs of extreme weather have rocketed, draining finances and devastating millions of lives. The costs of climate change are real and they are becoming part of everyday life. As people feel the impact of climate change in their own lives, and see more of how it affects the poorest and hungriest people in the world, they are demanding more action.

We demand that:

  • Rich Governments and Private Sector actors must provide Southern Countries with the means to put in place measures that will stop Climate Change making people hungry

Project 90 by 2030

  • Total decarbonisation of electricity supply by 2050; in other words achieving carbon-neutral electricity supply within 35 years
  • Community-driven sustainability of energy services through localisation and ownership of value chains – with socially inclusive renewable energy development
  • Redistribution on an equitable basis within any allocation of emissions rights or thresholds; including progressive implementation of the polluter pays principle
  • Recognition of per capita rights to the carbon-cycling capacity of the biosphere (any allocation of emissions ‘rights’)

Right to Know

  • Better Access to information
  • Greater transparency obligations of the private sector, particularly in industries with a serious environmental impact


We from the Southern African Faith Communities’ Environment Institute humbly ask the leaders of the Nations of the world to care for and treasure the Earth and all that is in it. It is our only home and is a sacred gift given to us by God:

  • Among the many threats to planetary well-being is the relentless pursuit of ever increasing profit, without regard for the capacity of a finite planet. We ask world leaders to therefore prioritise the wellbeing of people and planet as humanity’s central concern
  • We all recognise that to heal the planet, we – all nations, ethnicities, genders, cultures, faiths, and species – need to unite and employ the same vigour that led us to the technological and industrial advances in the developed world,  to now restore the ecological systems on which we depend and restore equity and justice for all 

South Durban Community Environmental Alliance (SDCEA)

  • Eskom must revoke its proposed residential tariff restructuring and instead – consistent with the Constitution, the Reconstruction and Development Programmed, implement a revised inclining block tariff with a broader lower band for which the tariff is set at 0c/kWh for the first 100 kWh per person per month, and with a more rapid increase in price for those South African households and corporations whose electricity consumption remains at irresponsible luxury levels
  • Eskom management must roll out an instant programme to develop a substantial amount of energy through investing in renewable energy, including subsidies to incentivize low-income people’s purchase of the long-promised millions of solar hot water heaters
  • Eskom and the South African government must turn away from fossil and nuclear technologies and focus national capacity on building a sustainable energy system under popular control and based on energy conservation and efficiency, and on renewable generation technologies
  • Eskom must stop persuading our government to continue to develop more coal fired power stations and agree in their policy that they will move away from coal  
  • Eskom must not be allowed to subvert the law by refusing to adhere to air quality standards
  • Eskom must be held to their agreement with the World Bank to install scrubbers on their Medupi and Khusile coal fired plants

Soweto Electricity Crisis Committee

  • We demand that government not sign for any more coal plants like kusile and medupi
  • We demand that our natural resources be used to generate electricity, like sun and wind
  • We demand that our water resources be respected and will not tolerate it being used for coal rather than people
  • We demand that ESKOM must pay his/her debts because we were not part of their negotiation with world bank

Women’s Leadership and Training Programme (WLTP)

We demand that:

  • Municipalities serving all rural areas in South Africa reduce Greenhouse gas emissions in their areas by working with local NGOs and traditional leaders to organise campaigns against the burning of plastic and by establishing recycling and waste collection projects


  • Scale up share of RE in energy mix and commit to domestic RE targets that will contribute towards a 25% global target by 2020
    • Announce scaled up effort at the Lima COP
  • Reduce share of coal in domestic energy mix by
    • Decommission existing coal plants at the end of their lifespan; and
    • Not committing to new coal fired power stations
  • Continue to be a leader in RE investment and phase out public financing for coal fired power plants