Pre-election Political Party Manifesto Debate emphasises necessity for environmental-conciousness

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24 APRIL 2019

While the country’s politicians vie to secure support from citizens in the run-up to the National Elections next month, a coalition of environmental and social justice groups will host a Public Political Party Manifesto Debate to draw voters’ attention to the growing threat of climate change impact to life on Earth. The debate – which is open to the public and takes place at Community House in Salt River from 4 to 7pm tomorrow – also aims to emphasize the need for South Africans to elect a government that recognises the enormity of these threats and prioritises the actions required to address them.

According to the coalition, “A public debate is necessary, since an analysis of the manifestos of more than ten parties reveal a critical failure to prioritise climate action, environmental justice and a just transition to a low-carbon society. It is evident thatparties do not grasp the clear and present dangers of a warming climate and the resulting impacts on our health, our food systems, air quality, water and biodiversity.”

Through the debate, the coalition – which includes the Southern African Faith Communities’ Environment Institute (SAFCEI), Project 90 by 2030African Climate Reality Project (ACRP), AIDC-One Million Climate Jobs Campaign350 Africa, and the Environmental Monitoring Group (EMG) – will engage at least seven political parties about their proposed approach to climate change.

Noelle Garcin from ACRP says, “As a result of climate change, South Africa is experiencing its worst recorded drought and our neighbours in Mozambique, Malawi, and Zimbabwe continue to experience the devastation of Cyclone Idai – Africa’s latest reminder that climate change is no longer a distant threat with uncertain effects. Both of these have had catastrophic effects on the poorest, most vulnerable among us.”

“However, what we are seeing is that most parties still endorse a "trade-offs" approach to climate change. This is unfortunately reinforced by the false and misleading argument that development – especially economic growth and job creation – inevitably comes at an environmental and human cost. This results in a number of concerning inconsistencies in several manifestos. For instance, some parties make commitments to reduce carbon emission, but in the same breath promote oil and gas exploration, in addition to continued reliance on so-called "clean” or “safe” coal to fuel development,” adds Garcin.

SAFCEI’s Patron, Bishop Geoff Davies says, “South Africa needs a government that will prioritise climate change and biodiversity extinction in its policy agenda. It is important that we have politicians who are aware of the looming environmental challenges. We, the citizens of this country, need to challenge politicians and their parties to embed eco-justice issues in their policies. We need to hold them accountable, because if we do not seek eco-justice for all living things, then we will all suffer increasing injustice and suffering as we scramble for access to the country’s decreasing natural, non-renewable resources.”

According to Vainola Makan, SAFCEI’s Energy Justice Coordinator, “It is important to engage meaningfully with leaders of political parties. Firstly, so that they know what is expected of them with regard to managing issues of energy and environmental justice, and secondly, to ensure they know citizens will hold them accountable. It is time that the environment becomes part of the country’s socio-economic planning and policy creation. We need to stop seeing environmental issues as an after-thought in sustainable development and start seeing it as our most fundamental issue to solve.”

Thembeka Majali from AIDC adds, “South Africa must use its wealth in natural resources in a climate-friendly way to create jobs and livelihoods. Political parties have to get beyond the talking stage and provide concrete measures to tackle both the climate and jobs crises."

Lorna Fuller, Director of Project 90 by 2030 says, “South African politicians must develop a plan that guides a just energy transition in our country. This plan must include energy democracy, accessibility, and affordability of electricity, local ownership of energy and empowerment of workers in traditional energy industries. The socio-economic and environmental problems facing South Africa can be solved, but it will require everyone to take responsibility and make sure that our elected officials are held accountable.”

Glen Tyler-Davies, the South African Team Leader for says, "A transition from polluting fossil fuel energy to clean renewable energy is an enormous opportunity for our country. Political parties are still stuck in the past, with some still supporting coal and nuclear development. With many promising new jobs to the electorate, it feels like they are letting one of the biggest job-creating opportunities – to lay out a green new deal specifically for South Africa – pass us all by. We want to hear from all of the parties how they plan for South Africans to benefit from the renewable energy systems of the future."

The Action 24 Project, with co-funding from the European Union, has published a political scorecard that rates political party manifestos on their Environmental and Climate Change policies. This forms the basis of our dialogue. URL:

Follow the links below to join the live-stream of the debate, via Facebook or YouTube:


Issued by Natasha Adonis, on behalf of SAFCEI and partners. For more information, contact Natasha on 0797-999-654 (also available on WhatsApp) or

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