Rejoicing renewable juice
The World Wide Fund For Nature South Africa (WWF SA), and friends, have braved uncharted renewable energy waters, and have come out victorious with South Africa’s first festival dedicated to sustainable sources of energy.
It would seem that almost everyone is jumping on the renewable energy bandwagon. More and more companies, not-for-profit organisations, public sector entities and, well, every Tom, Dick and Harry (it would seem) are proclaiming their renewable energy ties. But are they just following the fad, or do they really have our planet’s best interest at heart?
Well, my honest answer is that I don’t know – Tom, Dick and Harry can speak for themselves. There are four organisations, however, that are definitely fighting for the future of Earth and her inhabitants …
They are: WWF SA; the Alternative Information Development Centre (AIDC), a non-profit trust formed in 1996, which is a source of research and information on themes of poverty, trade and globalisation; The Rosa Luxembourg Stiftung, a German political foundation that promotes democratic socialism globally; and the City of Cape Town.
Together they co-hosted South Africa’s first Renewable Energy Festival, in Cape Town. It was inspired by two campaigns: AIDC’s One Million Climate Jobs campaign (an alliance of labour, social movements and civil society in South Africa, that calls for job creation aligned with solutions to the threat of climate change), and WWF’s Seize Your Power campaign.
The latter calls on financial institutions and governments worldwide to act immediately, to invest in more sustainable energy and disinvest in fossil fuels – in order to address climate change.
And, while the festival was inspired by other campaigns, it had an additional goal … to raise critical mass awareness and support for the uptake of renewable energy in South Africa – which it surely did.
The event attracted more than 6 000 environmentally minded visitors. Energy experts, artists, musicians, crafters, activists, business people and the general public came to the festival from all over Cape Town, as well as surrounding areas in the province.
Here they attended free educational seminars and debates and a “mini” film festival focusing on hot topics such as fracking and nuclear power. An interactive exhibition, showcasing renewable energy technology and projects, also graced the environmentally friendly event. Meanwhile, a line-up of top musical talent including Hot Water, the Gugulethu Tenors, Matthew Gold and The Kiffness provided entertainment.
“It was fantastic to see so many people participate in the various learning forums and visit the exhibitors to learn more about renewable energy and climate change,” says Saliem Fakir, head of WWF’s Living Planet Unit. “But, more importantly, it showed that South Africans want to know more about renewable energy, and events such as this one are important for informing the public and communities about energy issues.”
Alexis Scholtz, energy access initiative project coordinator: Living Planet Unit, WWF SA adds: “It is a fight that the public needs to know about, as they are going to be the recipients of a South Africa that is impacted by climate change … We are already seeing the effect of climate change everywhere.”
We must commend Tom, Dick and Harry for riding the renewable energy wave, as climate change and its economic, social and environmental impact is a matter of pressing global concern … But, truth be told, renewable energy has to undergo some more development before it can be the only form of energy that we rely upon. However, knowledge is power – and what better way to learn than through a festival.