A Cape Town-based teenage activist Zoe Prinsloo is increasingly concerned that climate change will worsen inequality in South Africa – with only the rich able to afford enough water, food and safely-located housing.
She says she saw this phenomenon, described by some as “climate apartheid”, start to play out amid a severe drought in 2018, when wealthier Capetonians could purchase the water they needed while poorer people simply had to get by with less.
Climate apartheid – where the “wealthy pay to escape overheating, hunger, and conflict, while the rest of the world is left to suffer” – was flagged in a report by the U.N. special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights in June.
Prinsloo, 17 says that that this experience had been a big driver for her environmental activism. Zoe Prinsloo is one of 500 young people selected to attend the U.N. Youth Climate Summit in New York last month.
Prinsloo first became aware of environmental pollution and climate change as a girl guide, and now volunteers as the media liaison for the African Climate Alliance in Cape Town, a youth-led group that promotes action to tackle global warming.
Since the age of 10, she has organised beach clean-ups and she officially launched her own business in 2018 called “Save a Fishie”, which sells straws, notebooks, pens and cleaning buds made of natural and recycled materials.
She puts the earnings back into expanding her business as well as boosting the size and reach of her beach clean-ups.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature says South Africa is among the world’s 20 biggest contributors of marine plastic pollution.
Prinsloo said young climate activists from both richer and poorer communities are using social media platforms, schools, clubs and societies to mobilise for the growing climate strikes that take place in Cape Town at the end of each school term.
A global “Fridays for Future” movement was sparked by 16-year-old Swede Greta Thunberg who began skipping classes on Fridays in August 2018 to protest outside Sweden’s parliament against government inaction on climate change.
“I am ready to take on the world and make it a better place for my children and my children’s children,” Prinsloo said.
More : IOL