Youth Climate Activism in South Africa is Widespread

Youth Climate Activism in South Africa is Widespread

Good habits formed at youth make all the difference.” Aristotle

Climate change affects every country on the planet. The youth of today can act as agents of change for climate action. Their opinions, their understanding of climate change, their voice and actions can determine how their country deals with climate change. The world has already seen how powerful the youth voice can be with Greta Thunberg who was just 15 years old when she did her first protest against the lack of climate action outside the Swedish parliament in 2018. Now, over 14 million people around the globe have joined her Fridays for Future movement. In South Africa, over 120 climate protests from the Fridays for Future movement have been reported. This group in South Africa wants political parties to acknowledge the climate emergency in the country and to commit to a moratorium on new fossil fuel mining licenses, switching to 100% renewable energy in the electricity industry by 2030, a new green deal, and starting climate adaptation education in schools.

The South African Youth Climate Change Coalition is another youth climate group in the country. This group seeks to raise awareness and educate youth on how they can contribute to a more sustainable future.

In 2021, young people between the age of 13 to 30 from various schools, universities, organizations and communities in South Africa developed the first South African Youth Climate Action Plan. This document was created with the aim that it would act as a framework for encouraging youth-led action and guiding the youth, the society and stakeholders in transforming South Africa into a climate resilient country.

A climate survey conducted in 2021 through UNICEF South Africa’s U-Report Platform obtained more than 3600 responses, out of which 75% were from youth, up to the age of 24. Approximately 80% of youth respondents indicated that they have been directly impacted by incidents related to climate or the environment such as air and water pollution, droughts and floods.

Youth in South Africa also participated in the 2021 Global Climate Strike that was held in over 100 countries. Some of their demands included a change in leadership in the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy to ensure transition to renewable energy and to put an end to new fossil fuel projects that are polluting and corrupted.

The Ichikowitz Family Foundation conducted 4500 face-to-face interviews with young people from 18 to 24 years from 15 countries in Africa, including South Africa. Data showed that 70% of young Africans are concerned about climate change, less than 50% of African youth are satisfied with the effectiveness of their government’s climate change policies and 64% are striving to decrease their carbon footprint.

There seems to be a general consensus among South African youth that the government needs to be more proactive in tacking climate change.

This Post was submitted by Climate Scorecard South Africa Country Manager Deepti Charitar

Learn More Resources

Fridays For Future. 2022. [Accessed May 2022].

Fridays For Future. 2022. List of countries. [Accessed May 2022].

Fridays For Future South Africa. 2022. [Accessed May 2022].

South African Youth Climate Change Coalition. [Accessed May 2022].

AllAfrica. 2021. The South African Youth Climate Action Plan. [Accessed May 2022].

UNICEF South Africa. 2021. [Accessed May 2022].

Ngcuka, O. 2021. South African protesters join global climate strike event. [Accessed May 2022].

Harrisberg, K. 2021. As eco-anxieties mount, Africa’s young people urge action on climate. [Accessed May 2022].


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