TILL DEATH DO US PART
‘Environment minister’ ties the knot with her ‘one true love, Big Oil’
‘We are gathered here today to join, in holy matrimony, Environment Minister Barbara Creecy with her one true love, Big Oil, while her jilted lover, Planet Earth cries silently.’ This was the troth plighted outside the venue of Africa Oil Week in Cape Town on Thursday.
Extinction Rebellion is well known for its creative forms of protest action but its most recent demonstration takes the cake. A mock wedding ceremony was held on Thursday by Extinction Rebellion (XR) Cape Town outside the Cape Town International Convention Centre (CTICC) where oil magnates from around the continent gathered for Africa Oil Week.
Judy Scott-Goldman, a spokesperson for XR Cape Town, explained that they held this mock wedding between figures representing Environment Minister Barbara Creecy and Big Oil, as the minister has “firmly turned her back on the planet for her first love, Big Oil”.
Delegates meandering outside the oil conference were confused when they saw a woman in a white wedding dress with the minister’s face below a pink and white veil, holding a bouquet of flowers and looking lovingly at a suited figure wearing a fossil fuels mask.
Another figure wearing a Planet Earth costume was crying on the sidelines — representing Creecy’s “jilted lover”.
Security personnel approached XR Cape Town members while they were setting up the mock wedding, and said they had been instructed to remove the activists, but on hearing that they were on public property, retreated and the “wedding preparation” resumed.
“We’re sad that our environment minister has left her former lover, Planet Earth, who was very stable, would have looked after her children, and provided for her. But, instead, she has chosen to get married today to Big Oil, despite the fact that he is known to lie about climate change, will certainly not provide for her children, is known to be quite self-interested and probably won’t care for her in the way that Planet Earth would have,” Scott-Goldman said.
The activists believe Creecy is not fulfilling her role as minister of the environment and supporting the Constitution, particularly Section 24, which grants the right to a healthy environment and to have the environment protected for the benefit of present and future generations, through reasonable legislative and other measures.
“We feel that digging for oil and gas and burning it in this time where climate change is having a severe impact on the planet is not a good way of looking after the environment and certainly not a good way of looking after future generations,” Scott-Goldman said.
This action comes after an onslaught of “environmental misses” by the minister which allow for further exploitation of South Africa’s natural resources by foreign oil and gas companies at the expense of coastal communities and the natural environment.
Creecy recently rejected appeals by small-scale fishing organisations and civil society against the environmental authorisations for two oil and gas prospecting applications in South Africa’s waters.
One of Creecy’s decisions confirmed that the French-owned company TotalEnergies, with partners Shell and PetroSA, had secured environmental authorisation to drill up to five oil wells 60km off Cape Point. The appeal was launched in a bid to nullify the environmental authorisation granted in April by the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy (DMRE).
Read more in Daily Maverick: Drill, baby, drill: Environment Ministry gives Total green light for Western Cape coast offshore drilling
In her decision, Creecy dismissed the concerns relating to the alleged lack of public consultation, impacts on marine life and possible oil spills.
The minister also dismissed an appeal intended to stop the geoscience and tech exploration company Searcher Geodata from conducting seismic surveys off the West Coast.
The activists were concerned that the minister was “not listening to small-scale fishers up and down the coast” who don’t want oil and gas exploration that could harm marine life and threaten their livelihoods.
At the “wedding”, Jackie Sunde from Coastal Justice Network — a network of small-scale fisher leaders, environmental justice organisations and researchers responding to injustices along the South African coastline — told Daily Maverick Creecy had betrayed her duty to protect South Africa’s natural environment and coastal fishing communities by allowing these activities.
In response, Peter Mbelengwa, the spokesperson for the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment, told Daily Maverick that any parties not satisfied with the minister’s appeals decisions should follow due process and apply to a competent court to have the decisions judicially reviewed.
Creecy’s COP28 role
In July, Creecy was appointed to co-facilitate Global Stocktake (GST) discussions at a political level among ministers responsible for climate change.
The GST is the main mechanism to take stock of the collective challenges and opportunities in implementing the Paris Agreement with the goal of accelerating climate action.
Scott-Goldman said this was incompatible with the decisions which allowed for further digging up and burning of fossil fuels such as oil and gas, which were linked to the climate crisis.
According to reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and around the world, the climate crisis continues to have a negative impact on marine, terrestrial and freshwater ecosystems.
Climate change has caused the loss of species, increases in disease and mass mortality events of plants and animals, ecosystem restructuring, increases in areas burnt by wildfire and declines in key ecosystem services. DM