Extinction Rebellion calls Africa Oil Week delegates 'climate criminals'

Extinction Rebellion protesters have surprised conference-goers at Africa Oil Week for a second time this week.

At noon on Friday, five protesters began hanging a massive banner at the Cape Town International Convention Centre (CTICC), with "Africa Oil Week Climate Criminals Conference" and displaying the Extinction Rebellion logo, GroundUp reported.

Seven men and women, dubbed the "Red Brigade", dressed in bright red robes and wearing white face paint, walked silently and took up poses around the CTICC.

According to one anonymous protester, the red symbolised the common blood of all humans.

"There are climate criminals making deals behind closed doors that put our futures at risk and we feel that is our duty to rebel for all life on Earth," said another protester, 21-year-old Shannon Goodman.

In a media statement, the group said: "Following the protest on Tuesday 5 November, Extinction Rebellion continues to oppose Africa Oil Week being held at the Cape Town International Convention Centre. This conference brings together international corporations, governments, investors and lobbyists, who – despite the global ecological crisis – continue to value profit over both people and the planet. The delegates who attend this conference are climate criminals.

"While they make billion-dollar deals, they do not care about global warming caused by their industry, or the floods, droughts, typhoons, pollution, crop failures, refugees and misery that result… These climate criminals are not welcome here!"

The statement said that Energy and Mineral Resources Minister Gwede Mantashe and Western Cape Premier Alan Winde had "not adequately responded to the letter of demand we sent earlier this week".

About a dozen other protesters waved Extinction Rebellion flags across the street from the CTICC.

Several cars driving by honked in support.

'Ecological emergency'

Extinction Rebellion wants government to acknowledge and declare a "climate and ecological emergency, reverse all policies inconsistent with addressing climate change, and work alongside the media to communicate this to their citizens".

They are also demanding a legally binding policy to reduce carbon emissions to net zero by 2025, and the creation of a national Citizen's Assembly to oversee these changes.

Winde's spokesperson, Bianca Capazorio, told GroundUp: "The Western Cape is committed to developing an appropriate response to climate change, through both mitigation strategies focusing on reducing carbon emissions, and through building resilience to the impacts of climate change.

"As such, we are already streets ahead of other provinces in terms of our use of alternative energy forms such as solar PV. It is legal in 22 municipalities to connect rooftop solar PV to the electricity grid, with 18 of these 22 already having nationally approved tariffs in place. We continue to push for President Ramaphosa to authorise his minister to allow municipalities to purchase renewable energy from independent power producers.

"These are complex issues… Globally, hundreds of thousands of people are reliant on the oil and gas industries, either directly or indirectly for their livelihoods. While the green energy sector provides us with opportunities for growth and jobs, we cannot simply abandon projects which rely on fossil fuels without a plan in place to protect those who are currently employed by the sector."