United against fracking

2015-11-30 09:42
Demonstrators flooded the streets of Howick during the People's Climate March.

Demonstrators flooded the streets of Howick during the People's Climate March. (Amil Umraw, The Witness)

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Pietermaritzburg - A diverse group of environmentalists took to the streets in Howick on Sunday to demonstrate against climate change.

The People’s Climate March started on Main Street with about 200 concerned residents and members of non-government organisations uniting in an effort to grow awareness around sustainable energy and threats to the environment.

The crowd, consisting of all races, age groups and creeds, the group took to the streets with posters, placards and banners while beating on drums, singing and humming.

Before the demonstration, the group gathered on the lawns near the Howick Falls and were treated to impromptu poems, songs and speeches regarding the current state of climate change, the impact on the environment and solutions to be implemented.

More than 100 people also signed a petition against the proposed gas exploration in KZN which may result in extraction by fracking.

The petition was addressed to the Petroleum Agency of South Africa and various other state departments and “strongly objects” to the exploration initiative by Rhino Oil and Gas Exploration South Africa.

Organiser of the march and member of the African Climate Reality project, Samantha Rose, said the two main aims of the demonstration were to offer ideas for the use of renewable energy as well as to project a unified voice opposing the gas exploration that may cover over 1,5 million hectares of KZN land.

“Today was to show that we know solutions are available but the government needs to get on the bandwagon to offer alternatives to gas and nuclear energy,” Rose said.

Commenting on yesterday’s turnout, Rose said she is pleased with the diverse crowd that attended as this will create awareness around the environmental ills the country faces.

“All those who turned up were so passionate and really care about the environment,” Rose said.

Rose plans to engage with local municipalities, especially the uMngeni Municipality, to discuss a way forward for renewable and sustainable energy alternatives for homes and businesses.

Also at the demonstration was environmentalist Nikki Brighton who said the march supports the worldwide message to leave fossil fuels in the ground and invest in “renewables” instead.

“We need to demonstrate alternatives to business-as-usual energy production. Renewables are growing at an astonishing rate and are becoming more affordable,” Brighton said.

“We realise that you cannot say no to fracking without providing a viable alternatives. Most municipalities want to know about job creation, so demonstrating alternatives is vital. We also need to show how livelihoods will be destroyed or damaged by fossil fuel exploration.”

• amil.umraw@witness.co.za

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  fracking

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