South Africa: Groundwork Releases State of Environmental Justice Report 2020 – ‘The Elites Don’t Care’ – People On the Frontlines of Coal, Covid, and the Climate Crisis

This report follows on from Down to Zero, the groundWork 2019 report on the politics of an (un)just transition. It looks at the impacts of the pandemic from global to local level, in particular reporting on the research of community activists in each of South Africa’s active coal fields. It also examines government’s actual climate response, as it bets on a fossil gas bonanza to deliver economic redemption and still punts the so called clean coal, even as Eskom abandons that myth.

The climate crisis is part of the broader ecological crisis created by global capitalism and its devotion to profit and growth. The Covid crisis emerges from the rent in the web of life and, while climate change is a slow motion wreck, the impact of Covid is synchronised across the world and compressed into weeks, months and a year or two.

It does not merely foreshadow climate change. It is an instance of the disruptions that follow from wide scale ecological disturbance – including climate change. And the baleful fires of the pandemic have illuminated and widened the fault lines of the global economy – exposing rank inequality, poverty and hunger.

At the report launch, community activists from different coal struggles across the country will share their research of experience in the coal frontlines during a deadly pandemic.

From people in the Mpumalanga Highveld where breathing clean air is a daily struggle, to Ermelo where mines are abandoned post extraction and land is left without any efforts to rehabilitate, to northern KwaZulu-Natal where livelihoods are destroyed through forced removals and extreme violence against those who resist. Given the experience of Covid, what should people expect from government as the climate crisis intensifies?

The panel of speakers consists of Promise Mabilo from Vukani Environmental Justice in Mpumalanga, David Hallowes from groundWork, Nduduzo Dlamini from Newcastle Environmental Justice Alliance, Molebogeng Mathafeng from Vaal Environmental Alliance, and Victor Munnik from the Life After Coal campaign.


Date: 17th March 2021

Time: 11:00 – 12:30

Online: Join the launch here

Read the full Report Here: