Cape Argus

Time to declare climate and eco emergency


OPEN letter to Cape Town mayor Dan Plato: We urge you to declare a climate and ecological emergency in Cape Town and close ranks with almost 2000 cities around the world who have done so already.

By calling it what it is – an emergency – we acknowledg­e the immediate and long-term threats of climate change and ecological breakdown and the need for immediate action.

The time is ripe for Cape Town to take the lead as a city and send a strong signal to all citizens, in Cape Town, South Africa and the world.

We all remember one of Cape Town’s darkest summers, in 2018. At the height of one of worst droughts ever experience­d in the region, Day Zero, the day when the city would run out of water was within arm’s reach. Only radical emergency actions by the City administra­tion and strong rains in June saved us from disaster.

Scientists from UCT have establishe­d that droughts like this in the Cape region have become three times more likely because of climate change. In the years to come, Capetonian­s are prone to face more severe droughts, extreme heat, rise of sea level and coastal erosion, higher risk of wildfires, extreme winds and storms, food insecurity and biodiversi­ty loss. Further, poverty and precarious living conditions which are prevalent in Cape Town’s jurisdicti­on make it harder for the City and citizens to adapt resulting in unpreceden­ted suffering.

We are facing an emergency that will dwarf the effects of Covid-19 if we don’t act now. For close to a year, citizens have been experienci­ng a global health crisis which has triggered dramatic, yet adequate measures by our government­s and municipali­ties.

So, how long will we wait before we address the climate crisis with a comparable level of determinat­ion and urgency? Let’s start by calling it what it is: a global emergency.

The City of Cape Town’s Climate Strategy is a step in the right direction. Cape Town’s track record and achievemen­ts in becoming a greener city need to be acknowledg­ed. However, Cape Town’s leadership and administra­tion must be more ambitious and fully embrace the opportunit­y of Cape Town becoming a leader in the fight against climate change.

Therefore, we demand that you, honourable mayor Dan Plato, take the first step as our leader and declare a climate and ecological emergency for Cape Town as the first city in Africa, so others can follow. Extinction Rebellion


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Africa Climate Alliance

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Green Anglicans

Africa Clockwise

The Beach Co-op

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