Rise for Climate: Garden Route

This September thousands of people is participating in hundreds of actions across five continents in a global mobilisation of distributed actions in our towns and cities, universities, places of worship and community spaces to drive climate action within our communities – sending a clear message to governments that the science is clear, we have the momentum, the technology for the energy transition is ready and we demand bold action now.

We are at a tipping point. What we’ve seen in 20 years of governments leading climate negotiations, even with scientists pressing the urgency, hasn’t been nearly enough. With climate impacts escalating, it’s coming at a time when we don’t have the luxury to wait. Already this year we have experienced catastrophic heatwaves in North Africa, Europe, Japan, Pakistan, Australia and Argentina; deadly wildfires in Greece, Sweden, the USA and Russia; drought in Kenya and Somalia; major water shortages in Afghanistan and South Africa; extreme storms and flooding in Hawaii, India, Oman and Yemen; record melting of the Bering Sea ice; and the 400th month in the row of above-average global temperatures. There is no time to lose.

Together we can build a groundswell of support for climate leadership, and create the right momentum to secure a fast and just transition to a sustainable and equitable world. In order to achieve this, communities worldwide needs to demand a fast and just transition to 100% renewable energy for all, while also stopping and banning all new fossil fuel projects from being built.

Rise for Climate sets the tone for a series of upcoming political moments and challenge decision-makers taking part in a series of major summits to embrace the reality of the climate crisis and step up their actions to tackle it.

The launch of the IPCC’s special report on the consequences of global warming surpassing 1.5C degrees should galvanise governments in their efforts to prevent the worst impacts of climate change, while the Climate Vulnerable Forum Summit being held by the governments in-line to suffer the worst consequences of unchecked global warming is a chance to learn from the leadership of those on the frontlines.

The global mobilisation will ultimately strengthen the message to national governments that the energy transition is necessary and achievable and that they should follow suit later this year at the United Nations climate change negotiations in Poland (COP24) by committing to revise their national climate plans by 2020.

A very small group of people came together for the Rise for Climate event held at the Garden Route Environmental Education Centre, in pouring rain, shielded against the cold by warm jackets, but eager to learn together, think up ideas, and participate. Facilitated and led by Janet Botes, a Climate Reality leader and WESSA Eden volunteer, this event was an informal gathering to initiate discussions around climate action on the Garden Route, specifically George and the surrounding area. Ingrid Coerlin from Knysna joined, and shared about initiatives run in her community, while Ingrid Vis from the WESSA Eden committee shared insights and ideas.

After a quick round of introductions, Janet gave a presentation about the issues we face and the importance of taking action to move away from fossil fuels and demand the shift to renewable energy. Emphasis was also put on the importance of lessening our consumption levels and on how policy or law can lead consumer behaviour. This led to an introduction to how citizens can and should get active in our democracy, ways in which public participation can help drive the changes that are crucial for reaching climate goals and limits.

Followed by a cup of warm coffee or tea a creative activity formed the basis of the discussions and sharing of ideas. Even though the government officials invited to attend were not present, a great deal of ideas and plans were shared and planned for taking the project further. The message is clear: we need to educate and inspire others, so we can demand action from law-makers as communities. We need to harness our power as citizens and demand the changes we need to see.

Get more information about how we can get active as citizens:

Action 24, 2018. Public participation in the legislative sector

Action 24, 2018. South Africa’s Response to Sustainability Challenges

Action 24, 2018. Budget influencing and monitoring through the Legislature

Photographs: Pierre Bezuidenhout