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This year’s Africa Day saw people in almost 20 countries across the continent taking to the streets and actively blocking the fossil fuel economy as part of a continent-wide day of action. This “Break Free” movement called on governments and business to put an end to fossil fuels and move towards 100% renewable energy for all.

The Break Free movement in Africa is co-ordinated by Greenpeace Africa, the African Climate Reality Project (ACRP), 350.org and Earthlife Africa. The movement aims to “empower local communities to rise with acts of courage and come together as a global movement for climate action and justice”.

Coal protests

“Funding fossil fuel development will only exacerbate the impacts of climate change. Africa has an opportunity to develop its energy sector using clean, renewable energy. It is this development that banks and financial institutions should support, and break free from financing fossil fuels. It's time to decoalonise Africa,” says Landry Ninteretse, Regional Team Leader at 350.org, an organisation that is building a global climate movement that intends to hold leaders accountable to science and justice.

Break Free saw over 30 events take place across Africa. Locally, a picket in Lephalale had communities calling for the cancellation of the proposed private coal-fired power station, Thabametsi, while the ACRP updated local decision makers on the realities of climate change and discussed their plans and progress towards shifting to 100% renewable energy.

“South Africa’s almost complete reliance on coal for electricity has severe consequences for water. To protect our right to clean and accessible drinking water, we must Break Free from coal and irrational water-intensive projects like Thabametsi must be stopped. There are effective alternatives to coal, but there are no alternatives to water,” Nhlanhla Sibisi, a climate and energy campaigner at Greenpeace Africa says.

“By having more fossil fuels burning in South Africa we expect to see increased climate change impacts in our country – and that’s from a bigger, long term perspective. By developing in water-stressed regions, coal-fired power stations would be undermining a crucial resource that they need to run, while putting extreme pressure on the surrounding communities’ basic needs,” adds Gillian Hamilton, ACRP Branch Manager.

In Lamu, Kenya, a photo exhibition showcasing the work of anti-coal activists was arranged, and Abuja, Nigeria, saw representatives from communities affected by coal mining denouncing the effects of this industry. Anti-coal activists mobilised in Bargny, Ngadje beach in Senegal to oppose the launch of the first coal power plant in the country.

“Declaring War against mother earth is suicidal, because no one gives breath best like she does. Coal fired power stations are a giant ticking time bomb, waiting to explode,” concludes Thabo Sibeko, Programs and Education Officer at Earthlife Africa.

Photo credits to Shayne Robinson.

Image source: https://greenpeace-africa.africa-newsroom.com/press/media/africans-want-the-continent-to-breakfree-from-fossil-fuels?lang=en&display=image

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