Take an early afternoon off from work (beat the traffic!) and join a bunch of concerned citizens (including Rob Zipplies, back from his epic climate change awareness-raising cycle from Cape Town, via Joburg and Pretoria to Durban) for a symbolic candlelight vigil outside the US Consulate in Westlake, Cape Town. Bring a candle, a jar to protect the flame (or a candle cut-out if the south-easter is blowing!), a placard, or just yourself and join us in a peaceful demonstration to demand a meaningful commitment by the US government to CO2 reductions.
At the same time we’ll be trying to send out a clarifying set of messages to the passing public. Parking and toilets are available at Steenberg Village Shopping Centre. The US Consulate is about 500m further on down Reddam Ave. Why: Our world leaders will be meeting in Copenhagen soon to decide our future, and the USA is unfortunately proving to be the most obstructionist of all the wealthy nations. Obama will be going for one day – the 9th of December – when he`ll no doubt deliver a rousing and eloquent speech.
He`ll then go on to Norway the next day to collect his Nobel Peace Prize. We need to send a signal to say that speeches and prizes are good, but action is what is really required; enough action to head us back towards 350 parts per million CO2. Currently the US emissions target is a paltry 3% reduction below 1990 levels – very far away from the 40% science is saying is necessary. The USA now holds a big key to unlock the climate treaty process, and we need Obama and the US Congress to turn that key.
So in South Africa we are planning to hold candlelight vigils outside the US Consulates in Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban on Friday afternoon, 11th December, where we’ll be gathering to tell the US to support the 350 goal and to agree to bold cuts in reducing their emissions. The timing here is crucial; the vigils are part of a huge mobilisation on the weekend of December 11th – 13th midway through the negotiations.
The climate talks will build to a head a few days later, so the more the negotiators feel the pressure from citizens around the world demanding a real deal, the more hopeful the final outcome will be. We plan to start the vigils before the US consular staff leave work so that’s why we want to start at 3pm. (Yes, the sun will still be shining brightly at this time of day, so the candles will be symbolic of lighting the path to 350 and our survival!)