This post was written by Kate Watermeyer
It’s not often that we down here at the southern tip of Africa can have our voices heard by one of the most influential players in our global climate future, but on June 30th that’s exactly what happened. News got out that President Obama’s whirlwind Africa tour was to include a speech to invited guests at the University of Cape Town that evening, and we grabbed the opportunity to add our voices to those from all over the world telling him that he must reject the Keystone XL pipeline.
Despite the late notice, a small group of UCT students, alumni and concerned Capetonians turned out to urge the President to make the only defensible decision and reject the pipeline, and to show local support for 350.org’s global campaign. Although security stopped us from getting close to the man himself, we hope that we succeeded in getting our message across. The signs held up as those arriving to hear the president’s speech passed by, asking Pres. Obama to say no to KXL, no to desertification, and yes to clean energy, will alert both his administration and the power players here in South Africa that we care about and are affected by this vital decision.
Climate change is a global issue, but projections suggest sub-Saharan Africa – one of the regions least responsible for creating climate change – will be especially badly affected by droughts, floods and natural disasters, with all too many consequent social tragedies. The KXL pipeline has been described as “the fuse to the biggest carbon bomb on the planet”, and there are implications for all of us if it is allowed to go ahead. We can only hope that President Obama feels the weight of his responsibility, and is guided by science to make the right decision and say no to KXL, and yes to taking real steps on climate!