In the field, activists and South African fishers have been rallying for years against plans which endanger the ocean. The campaign against TotalEnergies’ climatically destructive project is itself part of a long-term mass movement, Who Stole Our Ocean, led by The Green Connection since 2020 with the intention of taking the voices of coastal communities where their interests and those of the environment are threatened.
Follow a step-by-step timeline of the actions carried out by The Green Connection against TotalEnergies in South Africa.
13 December: Fishers and supporters from Saldanha Bay protest against plans for offshore gas and oil exploration, brandishing banners reading “We cannot eat oil and gas!” and “Our oceans are not for sale!”
Protest in Saldanha Bay in South Africa, 13 December 2022.
7 December: The Green Connection organizes a nation-wide protest against TotalEnergies’ climatically detrimental proposal in South Africa. Meetings take place in a large number of costal towns such as Cape Town, Johannesburg and Durban, in collaboration with local organizations.
In a declaration published on the NGO’s website, Neville van Rooy highlights the responsibility of France in particular, as far as the behavior of its industrial players abroad is concerned:
“With France supposedly being such a key player in global climate action efforts, it seems hypocritical that one of its largest companies are allowed to pursue extractive fossil fuel projects here in the Global South. But Total is not the only problem. We also have to contend with multiclient seismic survey companies like Searcher and TGS, as well as the contentious Karpowership gas -to- power projects planned for three South African ports. None of these are good for the climate or for the people.”
22 November: In an interview on South African television, Liziwe McDaid talks about TotalEnergies’ offshore project, discussing the proliferation of oil and gas projects in South Africa and their impact on local communities.
The same day, a protest is organized in Johannesburg against fossil fuels, and in favor of real investments and jobs in renewable energies.
Protest in Johannesburg, 22 November 2022.
7 November: Liziwe McDaid is interviewed on South African television in advance of the COP27 in Egypt. She talks in particular about TotalEnergies project (from 7 minutes in).
4 November: Several days after COP27, The Green Connection publishes an open letter to the South African president Cyril Ramaphosa (exerpt below):
“Now, with the country’s energy system in tatters, we see companies like Shell and Total taking advantage with their offshore oil and gas projects, pushed by government, despite all the risks, court rulings, and local opposition. South Africa does not produce its energy or develop its economy in a bubble. Everything is connected and interlinked in some way. Therefore, the goal should not merely be to address the country’s energy crisis. It should be to do so while also responding to the climate reality and while addressing the country’s deepening inequality and weakening economy.”
2 November: The Green connection and SACFE (Southern African Faith Communities’ Environment Institute) protest against fossil fuel projects including TotalEnergies’. Both organizations call for a transition towards real renewable energies.
26 October: The Green Connection publishes a video disproving the argument that gas and oil exploration projects would make a profit for the South African economy and its most vulnerable citizens. Liziwe Mcdaid questions the economist Gillian Hamilton on the false arguments used by major fossil fuel players. Hamilton returns to this subject in an article published in Business Live.
17 October: The Green Connection participates in the press conference organized by BLOOM in Paris. Liziwe McDaid, Neville van Roy and Ntshindiso Nongavu speak by videoconference in order to answer questions from French journalists on the South African mass movement. A video testimony from Christian Adams, artisan fisher and environmental activist, is also broadcast.
26 September: Artisanal fishers protest at Saldanha Bay against the imminent arrival of the Azinam oil rig and against TotalEnergies’ project in South Africa. The protest is included in a series of workshops installed by The Green Connection throughout the country with the aim of informing fishers on the means at their disposal to take part in negotiations that concern them and obtain a more just governance of the oceans.
Protest in Saldanha Bay, 26 September 2022.
23 September: The Green Connection publishes a video summarizing the status of different offshore exploration projects in South Africa. Neville van Rooy, Community Outreach Coordinator at The Green Connection, describes the assault on South African waters by different fossil fuel giants. The map allows us to also identify the Marine Protected Areas that would be threatened if these projects were to succeed, as well as areas where projects have, for the moment, been halted by local rallying.