Picket against fossil fuels at Muizenberg beach

Protests coincide with COP28 summit underway in Dubai

By Liezl Human

11 December 2023

About 100 people picketed at Muizenberg beach on Saturday as part of the Global Day of Action for climate justice. Photos: Ashraf Hendricks

South Africans joined the Global Day of Action for climate justice on Saturday 9 December, with gatherings in Cape Town, Durban, Knysna, and Saldanha Bay, among others.

About 100 people picketed at Muizenberg beach with placards that read “No ocean, no life” and “We say no to oil & gas exploration”.

Later in the day, the crowd was bemused by a man, who appeared to be part of the picket. He fired a flare gun from the beach and then was arrested.

The protest coincided with the COP28 summit taking place in Dubai from 30 November until 12 December 2023. COP28 is an international summit held annually to assess its countries’ climate change progress. Consensus on the phasing out of fossil fuels has been a priority at COP28.

Liz McDaid of the environmental organisation The Green Connection emphasised the need for South Africa to move away from fossil fuels and transition to renewable energy.

“We have to put the power back in the hands of the people. We have to take it away from the corporations,” said McDaid.

Wendy Pekeur of the Ubuntu Rural Women and Youth Movement said that fishers who have lived in coastal towns for generations will lose their livelihoods if fish are driven away by seismic surveys and oil and gas drilling.

Pekeur also works with communities in the Northern Cape. The province has a contentious history with mining, which Pekeur likened to oil and gas exploration. “Where are mine companies today? They became rich and the surrounding communities have nothing to show for it,” she said.

She pointed out that South Africa is the highest carbon polluter in Africa, and called for a move away from fossil fuels.

Greenpeace volunteer, Elaine Mills, said that we should move towards clean energy. The International Energy Agency (IEA) has said that no new oil and gas should be extracted if we are to globally reach net CO2 emissions by 2050.

“We can see the impact of climate change daily,” said Mills. She said that oil and gas projects often do not actually uplift South Africans from poverty or bring jobs, because most of what will be extracted will get exported.

Gabriel Klaasen, of the African Climate Alliance, said that further oil and gas exploration means “we’ve given up on ourselves” and “we’ve given up on future generations who will have to inherit the damage and destruction”.

Protests across the country and world on Saturday coincided with the COP28 summit underway in Dubai which ends Tuesday, 12 December 2023.