An environmental group is urging the president to halt offshore oil and gas projects. [Picture: Eye Ubiquitous/Universal Images Group via Getty Images]
The world’s leaders and nearly 100 000 other attendees are gathered in Dubai in the oil-rich United Arab Emirates (UAE). But back at home, environmental groups are concerned offshore oil and gas projects belie the SA government’s stated commitment to addressing climate change at COP28. They want the president to halt such projects.
SA is set to accelerate the expansion of its oil and gas sector by 2027, with at least 15 projects expected to be underway between the four years from 2023. Many of these projects have been touted as employment creators, but come at an extreme cost to the environment.
“What we have to remember is that many people depend on the coast for their livelihoods,” said Liz McDaid, Strategic Lead at The Green Connection in an interview on Salaamedia. Especially with regards to coastal projects, the livelihoods of fishing groups are at stake.
“These are people whose whole livelihoods depend on the ocean. Now, we have these foreign companies coming along” and placing livelihoods and the environment under threat.
Petition to halt offshore oil and gas projects
The Green Connection started a petition to urge President Cyril Ramaphosa to stop offshore oil and gas projects. It has since garnered nearly 20 000 signatures from concerned citizens.
“We believe that this is not in the public interest,” said McDaid. “Therefore, we are calling on the president to actually stop this …”
“It’s very difficult for us to see how the president and the government can go to the climate change talks which are happening in Dubai and say that South Africa’s committed to engaging climate change and responding and at the same time they want to drill out the ocean, which will impact on people’s livelihoods and make climate change worse.”
She said South Africans were all too familiar with the effects of climate change. Exacerbated floods and droughts in recent years have wreaked much havoc in parts of the country, with the government at times resorting to states of disaster in response.
“It’s not like this is something in the future. How many people actually benefited from those droughts and floods? How many people suffered? Were they compensated for that suffering? This is why we are saying the president must now listen to the people and work in the public interest and stop this.”
As humans, she added, “We are already having such a huge impact on the planet and what we need to be doing is repairing the damage, not causing damage”.
The biggest climate event on the calendar got underway in Dubai on Thursday. A landmark deal was agreed upon on the first day in which countries committed to a loss and damage fund for vulnerable countries affected by climate change.