Global environmental activist group Greenpeace expressed its concern about a lack of urgency in Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe’s budget vote speech.

On Thursday, Mantashe and Environment, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Barbara Creecy delivered their budget votes speeches.

“Minister Mantashe’s budget vote speech indicated no real sense of urgency around the climate crisis, deadly air pollution and the thousands of people it kills prematurely.

“The growing climate crisis does not afford us the luxury of debate, and Minister Creecy is correct that unless we act now the climate crisis may threaten our very existence,” said Happy Khambule, Greenpeace Africa’s senior political adviser, in a statement.

“The reality is that South Africa and the world must do whatever is necessary to avoid complete climate breakdown. The best way for South Africa to do this is to shift away from fossil fuels.”

Khambule mentioned that although Creecy acknowledged the growing movement being built by pupils – who are protesting against adult inaction on climate change – she had stopped short of pushing for the declaration of a climate emergency.

He said this should be a top priority for her. 

Asked about declaring a climate crises at a media briefing preceding her speech, Creecy said: “How would declaring a climate crises help people implement solutions? Isn’t that what we want? Solutions. 

“I think what we already have is that all spheres of government have signed agreements in terms of the Paris Accord. So, we have all agreed that there is a problem.”

“Greenpeace Africa welcomes Minister Creecy’s commitment to an immediate review of our priority area air quality management plan and its implementation. This is a critically important move as the evidence is increasingly overwhelming that South Africa is in the midst of an airpocalypse, largely due to Eskom’s addiction to coal,” Khambule said.

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