Open Letter to Cape Town Mayor Dan Plato demanding the Declaration of Climate Emergency

Honourable Mayor Dan Plato,

We, the signatories of this letter, urge you to declare a Climate and ecological emergency in Cape Town and close ranks with almost 2000 cities around the world who have done so already (read more here).

By calling it what it is – an emergency – we acknowledge the immediate and long-term threats of Climate Change and ecological breakdown and the need for immediate action. The time is ripe for Cape Town to take the lead as a city and send a strong signal to all citizens, in Cape Town, South Africa and the world.

We all remember one of Cape Town’s darkest summers in 2018. At the height of one of worst droughts ever experienced in the region, Day Zero, the day when the City would run out of water was within arm’s reach. Only radical emergency actions by the city administration and strong rains in June saved us from disaster. Scientists from UCT have established that droughts like this in the Cape Region have become 3 times more likely because of climate change.

In the years to come, we Capetonians are prone to face more severe droughts, extreme heat, rise of sea level and coastal erosion, higher risk of wildfires, extreme winds and storms, food insecurity, and biodiversity loss. Further, poverty and precarious living conditions which are prevalent in Cape Town’s jurisdiction make it harder for city and citizens to adapt resulting in unprecedented suffering.

We are facing an emergency that will dwarf the effects of COVID-19 if we don’t act now. 

For close to a year, citizens have been experiencing a global health crisis which has triggered dramatic, yet adequate measures by our governments and municipalities. Citizens around the world had to make many sacrifices. We Capetonians have shown ourselves determined and willing to act when facing an enemy that threatens our lives and livelihoods.

However, we are full of worry that whilst all eyes are on fighting the pandemic, the man-made global climate crisis is moving faster and faster to a point of no return, locking us into a disastrous and deadly spiral that threatens the sustainability of all life on this planet for centuries to come.

So, how long will we wait before we address the climate crisis with a comparable level of determination and urgency?

Let’s start by calling it what it is: a global emergency.

The City of Cape Town’s Climate Strategy is a step in the right direction. Cape Town’s track record and achievements in becoming a greener city needs to be acknowledged. However, Cape Town’s leadership and administration must be more ambitious and fully embrace the opportunity of Cape Town becoming a leader in the fight against Climate change. The citizens of Cape Town, South Africa and the world need to hear a strong signal that we must act now.

Therefore, we demand that you, honourable Mayor Dan Plato, take the first step as our leader, and declare a climate and ecological emergency for Cape Town as the first city in Africa, so others can follow.

We invite you to receive our letter in person on Wednesday, March 3rd at 13.30 in front of the main entrance of the Centre (stairs), where we will also give a short announcement to the press.

Signatories and organisations who endorse this letter:

An initiative by:

XR Cape Town