South Africa | groundWork releases report on Just Transition, highlights health vulnerabilities and opportunities

In March Health Care Without Harm’s partner in South Africa, groundWork, together with its Life After Coal partners the Centre for Environmental Rights and EarthLife Africa JHB, launched their 2019 report titled Down to Zero: The politics of just transition.

The Down to Zero report examines the urgent need to respond to climate change, create a truly democratic and participatory order, and share our work and the wealth of the land.

Health is discussed throughout the report, including the range of health risks arising from climate change and air pollution, which then cascade into economic impacts particularly for poor people. Vulnerabilities in South Africa’s health care system will be further stressed by these growing health impacts. As part of the open agenda for Just Transition proposed in the report, the authors highlight the need for the health sector to protect public health from the harmful effects of air pollution and climate change, especially for populations with pre-existing vulnerabilities like women, people living near polluting industries, people living in informal settlements, fishing communities, and rural subsistence farmers.

The  report makes clear suggestions on what effective actions need to be taken for a fair transitions to take place:

  • rapidly reduce fossil fuel burning and hence emission to zero
  • look to the survival of the people through our democratic organisation and common control of resources
  • restore the land and its capacity to absorb and store carbon, including through the way we grow food
  • claim the climate debt owed by the north to south and rich to poor

groundWork concludes that “taking care of the earth is essential to a meaningful and sustainable shift towards a more equal society but also that social justice is required for a credible climate response. As we transition, no one should be left behind. If the transition serves to protect the benefit of the few, it will not be a just transition. Nor will it mitigate the climate crisis.”

Read the full press release and download the report.

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