South Africa is the 12th worst emitter of greenhouse gases in the world. A large South Africa delegation attended the Climate Change COP26 Conference held between the 31st October and 12th November 2021in Glasgow in the United Kingdom.  South Africa’s substantial agenda was to access international finance for investments that are needed in order for the country to transition from its  reliance on fossil fuels.

Scientists have proved that in order to keep global warming below 1.5C, to mitigate the current global climate crisis, we have to leave the vast majority of fossil fuels untouched.   

In steep contradiction to the mandate of the legally binding international treaty on climate change, the Paris Agreement, which was adopted by 196 Parties at COP21 on the 12th December 2015, South Africa has granted permission to Royal Dutch Shell to conduct deep-water seismic oil and gas surveyance of two massive offshore areas which stretch all the way from the Eastern Cape to the Mozambique maritime border. 

Climate change activists have recently won a big legal victory against oil giant Shell, who has a result been forced to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 45% by 2030 based on 2019 levels.  Friends of the Earth International stated: “Our hope is that this verdict will trigger a wave of climate litigation against big polluters, to force them to stop extracting and burning fossil fuels.”

The administrators of South African Presidential Climate Commission and the authors of the Climate Change Bill have not, according to our research, objected to the deep-water seismic oil surveyance of two massive offshore areas which stretch all the way from the Eastern Cape to the Mozambique maritime border.

Why did the South African government choose to ignore a coalition of eight civil society groups who asked that ties be severed with Myanmar because of their continued human rights abuses? This plea, is in light of the controversial deal with the Silver Wave Energy Company, which is linked to the Myanmar regime.  A deal controversially concluded during the Zuma regime.

Diplomatic information published on WikiLeaks shows that the Silver Wave Energy Company, though registered in Singapore, has close ties to the Burmese regime. 

Questions were raised in the media in 2011 about this aforementioned deal when it was uncovered that Burma’s ambassador to South Africa provided top officials with gifts, these officials apparently included Jacob Zuma and Kgalema Motlanthe.  

Jacob Zuma, South Africa’s former President, has been charged with corruption linked to a 1990’s arms deal where he is accused of accepting 783 illegal payments. 

Did the present South African government examine every aspect of this controversial deal in light of the before they approved the license’s second renewal period in July 2020? 

State Capture commission of inquiry highlighted the abuse of political power in South Africa.  We have been shown that you do not have to be a politician to hold political power you can influence political developments by buying politicians. 






If the world wants to avoid a climate catastrophe, countries need to put into place policies and actions now that will produce deeper impacts, longer-term results, and systematic changes. 

The South African climate justice movement which included the Co-Operative and Policy Alternative Centre (COPAC) and the South African Food Sovereignty Campaign and other civil organisations engaged in a process to develop a Climate Justice Charter for South Africa.  

“South Africa has to become a climate justice state that recognises the climate emergency, whilst strengthening our democracy.  It has to be guided by the vision, goals, principles and people-led systematic alternatives contained in a Charter and all its climate policies must be aligned to realise this Charter.”

On the 28th of August 2020 a new Climate Justice Charter was adopted by a number of environmental organisations, including the EMS Foundation.  On the 16th of October 2020 the Climate Justice Charter Movement handed over the Charter to the Parliament of South Africa demanding that it be adopted as per Section 234 of the South African Constitution. 

The Charter calls for climate justice by transforming our work environments, our communities and our political power structures.

The EMS Foundation will continue to highlight and report on issues pertaining to the importance of protecting the South African natural environment and the democratic rights of all South Africans. 

In order to commemorate Human Rights Day 2021, the EMS Foundation would like to acknowledge two South African environmental activists who have been assassinated during their campaigns highlighting the negative aspects of mining in their communities. 

Sikhosiphi Rhadebe, chairperson of the Amadiba Crisis Committee was assassinated on the 22nd of March 2016.  His campaign highlighted two major mining projects  in Xolobeni in the Pondoland region of the Eastern Cape.  Sikhosiphi Rhadebe was gunned down outside his home in the Lurholweni township in Mbizana.  A community leader, father and founder of a soccer club for unemployed youngsters.  Seventy families were at risk of being evicted from their ancestral land if these developments went ahead. 

Fikile Ntshangase, was gunned down on the 22n October 2020 at her home in Ophondweni near Mtubatuba in KwaZulu Natal.  Fikile Ntshangase was the vice-chairperson of a sub-committee of the Mfolozi Community Environmental Justice Organisation opposed to an open mine on the border of the iMfolozi-Hluhluwe Game Reserve in northern KwaZulu Natal.   She was lobbying for the protection of the community’s rights to a safe and clean environment.  

The EMS Foundation is extremely concerned by the fact that it is clearly not safe to exercise our fundamental human rights in defence of our environment in South Africa.  Furthermore, we are devastated to learn that no arrests have been made in either of these assassinations. 

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