As the climate crisis intensifies, the South African government remains committed to profit first, still driving fossil fuels over renewable energy, which is needed for a #JustTransition. It because of this unwavering support for dirty coal and other dangerous energy source that Earthlife, on #EarthDay2021, joined the Climate Justice Action Group (CJAG) in a picket demonstration outside Gauteng’s Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (GDARD) to call attention to the ongoing socio-environmental injustices that continue in South Africa. A youth-based group, facilitated by Earthlife Africa Johannesburg, CJAG works to promote awareness of climate justice issues among SA youth.

Then, In the early hours of 13 May, just before the crack of dawn, Earthlife Africa (Johannesburg) joined residents of Lephalale in Limpopo in a small demonstration to create awareness of the threats from coal, and the impact this fossil fuel is having on communities in the area. Lephalale residents say that they are very concerned about the coal industries in the region and its effects. Coal plays a major role in the intensifying climate crisis and the associated pollution directly affects the future of the people of Lephalale and “life as we know it”.

Staying in Lephalale – where the presence of coal mining and the construction of power stations continue to negatively impact people’s fundamental human right to Freedom of Religion or Belief (FoRB) – the Coalition for Religious Equality and Inclusive Development (CREID), Earthlife Africa Johannesburg and Southern African Faith Communities’ Environment Institute (SAFCEI) conducted a study to better understand these threats, and the related issues.

Not only are communities unable to access water but they are also prevented from carrying out their beliefs, since they are unable to access ancestral graves. It is important that government and corporates alike recognise that this right underlies peaceful, stable, and inclusive societies, where people and communities feel fulfilled and connected to their cultures. Check out the short film Mapping the Sacred: Voices from the Waterberg for more.

In a further action in early May – ahead of a discussion around the World Bank’s engagement on the African continent to support borrowing countries’ energy sectors – Earthlife Africa Johannesburg and dozens of organisations concerned about the climate crisis, called on its Executive Directors to stop investing in fossil fuels. In a letter to the World Bank citizens urged the World Bank to rather scale up investments in decentralized renewable energy.