groundWork (Friends of the Earth South Africa)
Southern Cape Land Committee

SOUTH AFRICA: LITTLE INTENTION OF FIGHTING THE CLIMATE BATTLE - Environmental Affairs Climate Change Dialogue begins as world remembers late anti-Shell activist, Ken Saro-Wiwa

Johannesburg & Graaf Reniet, South Africa, 10 November 2015 – With Royal Dutch Shell having been granted the largest concession to frack for shale gas in South Africa, today is the 19th year the world commemorates Nigerian State’s assassination of Ken Saro-Wiwa and eight other environmental justice activists fighting Shell in the Niger Delta [1]. This, a sad irony as the Department of Minerals Resources (DMR) has recently announced its push for fracking as early as 2016, despite the lack of sufficient research on the social and environmental impacts.

Contradictions continue to abound between South Africa’s energy policy and its climate commitments. Today, the Minister of Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) opens the National Climate Change Dialogue in Johannesburg. On top of Eskom’s heavy reliance on CO2 emitting coal, the Petroleum Agency of South Africa is supporting the DMR in turbo-charging the country’s move to fracking. A credible response to climate change requires that all exploration for oil, gas and coal stops now as existing reserves contain as much as seven times the ‘carbon budget’ associated with the agreed commitment to limit warming to 2°C.

groundWork [2], the Southern Cape Land Committee (SCLC) [3] and Dutch activist organization Milieudefensie (Friends of the Earth The Netherlands) [4] have released a report titled “Shell: Don’t frack the Karoo” [5]. It illustrates that in terms of the DEA’s application of an adaptation policy for climate change, fracking is not a compatible strategy for many reasons, one being that large volumes of water will be contaminated above and below the ground. The report also highlights the impunity with which Shell acts and that South Africa should not consider the implications of this as different to that which continues to take place in Nigeria as a result of Shell’s operations.

Angela Conway, Director of SCLC explains their concerns:

“Public consultations have been minimal and have largely excluded people whose lives will be the most impacted upon. There is growing resistance from local people to fracking and a call for transformative development which fosters agrarian transformation. Fracking will impact on both the sensitive and fragile ecological system of the Karoo and the social fabric, creating divisions within communities and increased conflict over already scarce land resources and livelihoods.”

According to groundWork and SCLC, South Africa has abandoned the 2®C target. There is no connection between that target and its ‘peak, plateau and decline’ (PPD) pledge and the pledge does not represent a fair contribution to mitigating climate change. Further, South Africa is not limiting its emissions in line with the pledge and is not planning to do so. Current plans to expand the energy system result in carbon emissions far exceeding the PPD limit. To meet the pledge, older coal-fired power plants with emissions of at least 78 million tonnes of CO2 per year need to be shut down by 2018.

Director of groundWork, Bobby Peek explains the local and global nexus of climate change:

“Climate change is not only about numbers it is also about fossil fuel expansion harming and killing people today on the fence-line of these fossil fuel developments.  This expansion is what Saro-Wiwa challenged and died for. The gains local people make by stopping fossil fuel expansion is not only a gain for their own communities but a gain for the world as these actions are keeping carbon in the ground.”



[1] On 10 November 1995, Ken Saro-Wiwa and eight other activists from Ogoniland in the Niger Delta, Nigeria (known as the ‘Ogoni Nine’) were murdered by the State – with heavy influence from Royal Dutch Shell – for their anti-Shell activities. During their lives, they fought for human rights, social and environmental justice which were and continue to be ignored by Shell and the Nigerian government, in the extraction of crude oil for mega-profits. For more information visit
[2] groundWork is an environmental justice organisation working with community people from around South Africa and increasingly in Southern Africa on environmental justice and human rights issues focusing on Coal, Climate Justice and Energy, Waste and Environmental Health. groundWork is the South African member of Friends of the Earth International
[3] The Southern Cape Land Committee works with excluded communities in the Southern Cape and western regions of the Eastern Cape towards agrarian transformation. SCLC’s vision is for a vibrant and sustainable countryside where there is no poverty, people are living lives of dignity, family values and community culture are upheld, the environment is protected and there is a more equitable access to and control over natural resources and opportunities
[4] Milieudefensie has 80 local member groups, with the organisation’s vision being one of ensuring an environment that is clean and healthy for people to live in. One of their campaigns is actively supporting activists in Nigeria resisting Shell, in particular taking the company to court in The Netherlands for destruction of people’s environments.  Milieudefensie is the Netherlands member of Friends of the Earth International -
[5]Download the report here.


Megan Lewis
Media and Communications Officer
Tel (w): +27 (0) 33 342 5662
Tel (m): +27 (0) 83 450 5541

Bobby Peek
Tel (w): 033 342 5662
Tel (m): 082 464 1383

Southern Cape Land Committee:
Angela Conway
Tel (w): +27 (0) 44 803 9900/01
Tel (m): +27 (0) 82 295 7760