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Statement from the 7th Peoples Gathering to Resist Gas Expansion and Focus on Food held on 1st November 2021, Johannesburg

10 December 2021- We have successfully challenged the expansion of the gas industry in South Africa.  The stakes are higher as government pushes gas as a false solution to our energy requirements and in addressing the climate challenge in the just transition to a more sustainable and equal society for all. We, the communities, from KwaZulu-Natal, Western Cape, Eastern Cape, Northern Cape, Free State and Gauteng gathered in Johannesburg, on 1st November 2021 to reaffirm our commitment to fight for climate justice and a just transition and to call for an URGENT STOP to all future fossil fuel exploration and expansion, and managed phase out of fossil fuel to secure a just transition for all South Africans, and not only for the elite.

Our victories:

We recognise:
That many organisations stand in solidarity with communities affected by the impacts of climate change and the onslaught of the fossil fuel industry.  We support all efforts by NGOs, movements, and peoples’ organisations who resist fossil fuels, stand up to the power of corporations and challenge undemocratic governance. We call for a just transition based upon transformative governance and recognise that the struggle has to be led and organised by those who are suffering the negative consequences of neo-liberal policies and practices. 

Our history:

  1. In 2012, people of the Karoo called for a dialogue of people living in the Karoo and concerned organisations from throughout South Africa on a transformative agenda in response to the proposals for fracking by Shell and other corporates. 
  2. The 2013 dialogue held in Steytlerville, Karoo, hosted by the Support Centre for Land Change (then the Southern Cape Land Committee) sought to strengthen the voice of local communities who would bear the brunt of the impact of fracking on their health and environments (especially the Karoo’s precious water resources), face job losses, social dislocation, further food insecurity and a destruction of the sense of place which the people of the Karoo value.  It also sought to develop a co-ordinated fracking response with a transformative agenda raising issues of economic, social and environmental transformation and to link with other national and international initiatives aimed at mobilizing and strengthening the voice of people whose lives are impacted upon by mining, oil and gas.
  3. In 2014, joined by Milieudefensie (Friends of the Earth Netherlands), a second dialogue was held in Graaf-Reinet, Karoo based on the participants “vision for agrarian transformation and sustainable development, and… our commitment to securing a future for our children and based on the destructive experiences of other countries where fracking has taken place”, the dialogue resolved to “say NO to fracking”.
  4. In 2015, recognizing that “the threat of fracking continues to hang over large portions of South Africa including the Karoo [… and the highest decision makers hail fracking as a ‘game changer’” and public participation went ahead without meaningful inclusion of local people whose lives will be most impacted upon and the destructive impact of fracking internationally became ever more apparent,] the third dialogue in Graaf-Reinet made a call: “Don’t Frack with the Karoo”.
  5. By 2016, the gas industry had shifted their focus to KwaZulu Natal and Matatiele, Eastern Cape in the foothills of the Maloti-Drakensberg Park World Heritage Site.  In October, hosted by Environmental and Rural Solutions, and attended by local government, a representative from National Parliament, communities, and NGOs from throughout South Africa, the gathering resolved [that “based upon our experiences, on our dialogue, and on what we have witnessed in Matatiele, we reaffirmed that our lives and livelihoods are supported by the ecosystems we are destroying, so we will do all it takes to safeguard them for future generations.]  We say no to exploration and extraction!”
  1. In 2018, two national gatherings were held, bringing together the inland fracking and offshore oil and gas struggles:
    • In the Wilderness, Western Cape, the dialogue declared: “Our vision is for our communities to live in harmony with each other and the earth. [Our homes are the bedrock upon which we build a democratic, inclusive and fossil free society and where:   People receive fair remuneration for engaging in productive and creative livelihoods, where the work they do is decent, rewarding and secure; Communities enjoy quality and affordable basic services and infrastructures for all; Individuals and families are able to access, basic goods and services; and There are clean healthy environments where people live and work and government is accountable to the people.”]
    • In Durban, KwaZulu Natal, the resistance against fracking was joined by those resisting oil and gas offshore. The dialogue noted that we must live well with each other and the earth if we are to achieve an egalitarian society that has environmental justice at the core of the movement, which must be based upon an open democracy that has just transition for all as its goal.

 

Challenges:

  • We are witnessing the continuous and relentless push for the expansion of fossil fuels by corporates and governments, in defiance of the growing evidence that it must stop;
  • Despite 30 years of UN discussions, temperatures continue to rise and climate impacts continue to harm the poor the most;
  • Air pollution continues to impact on health;
  • Fossil gas is not a requirement of the just transition. It accelerates climate change through the emission of greenhouse gases including methane leaks which are not accounted for.
  • Fossil fuels are a destructive pathway that enables undemocratic legislation and ecosystem destruction; are resource heavy and threatens people’s future and access to their common heritage including the oceans, land and water resources, and their ability to produce and access food.
  • Government and companies still push false solutions such as plantations

 
We therefore commit ourselves to and demand:

  • The practice of open democracy;
  • That government stops all processes that facilitate exploration, extraction and expansion of the fossils fuels industry
  • Divestment from fossil fuels and investment in renewable energy which is democratic and socially-owned; 
  • A just transition based upon a transformative agenda that supports people’s education and gender justice, dismantles patriarchy, and builds a regenerative economy putting people before profits;
  • That government urgently develop policies that enable the decentralisation of renewable energy production that is just, democratic, and based upon social ownership; and
  • That government urgently puts in place mechanisms that will protect the people’s commons, future generations, and support food sovereignty in urban, rural and coastal areas of our country.

Finally, as we have said in all our previous dialogues,
No to gas, oil, and coal.

Mawubuye umhlaba wethu – Bring back our land
Some for all, forever!

Organisation Parties to the Statement:

groundWork, Friends of the Earth, South Africa
Support Centre for Land Change (SCLC)
Environmental and Rural Solutions (ENVIROS)
South Durban Environmental Alliance (SDCEA)
Abahlali baseMjondolo Movement SA
Women’s Leadership and Training Programme (WLTP)
KwaZulu Natal Fisherfolk Forum
Vaal Environmental Justice Alliance (VEJA)
Botshabelo Unemployed Movement (BUM)
Earth Life Africa (ELA)
Vukani Environmental Movement (VEM)
Sukumani Environmental Justice (SEJ)
Mfolozi Community Environmental Justice Organisation (MCEJO)
Eastern Cape Environmental Network (ECEN)
Green Connection
Centre for Environmental Rights (CER)
Life After Coal Campaign (LAC)
Africa Coal Network (ACN)
Friends of the Earth Africa (FOEA)