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A Climate Justice Critique of South African Political Parties

By: 
Vishwas Satgar

We have a crisis of climate leadership among all South Africa’s political parties and none are committed to ensuring South Africa, the region and the continent is on a climate emergency footing. Being on a climate emergency footing means advancing a deep just transition/s to ensure regulated, purposive, ambitions and planned reductions in carbon emissions to prevent a 1.5°C overshoot and the necessary adaptive systems are in place that transform energy, production, consumption, finance and public systems through democratic systemic reforms to ensure workers, the poor and the vulnerable do not pay the price of the transition and climate shocks. Such a deep just transition is led by the working class and mass social forces, rooted in a red-green alliance seeking climate justice.

None of South Africa’s parties understand the climate crisis as part of larger ecological crisis. More extraction, pollution, chemical based agriculture, waste, deforestation and over consumption are undermining natural cycles of the earth system and accelerating species extinction. Several planetary bio-physical limits (fresh water, land use, ocean acidification, bio-geochemical flows, for example) are being breached and capitalism’s ecocidal logic is creating a toxic and unlivable world. We need to reconnect with the web of life, recognise we share the planet with other life forms that have rights and have to rethink everything from the standpoint of eco-centric ethics and the deep just transition. None of the political parties are making these arguments to confront the ecocidal logic of capitalism.