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  • Writer's pictureFreda Smit

V5 Digital joins the Climate Conversation: Insights from The Gathering - Earth Edition

Charting the Course of Action: The Gathering - Earth Edition Agenda

As a Pledge 1% participant, we at V5 Digital were eager to attend The Gathering: Earth Edition, hosted by the Daily Maverick, a much-anticipated event aimed at addressing Africa’s energy crises, the economy and climate change.

With over 1800 attendees, 5000 virtual viewers and a diverse group of experts from business, science, and politics, The Gathering was an entertaining and powerful presentation sparking crucial conversations about sustainability.

20Twenties- Eve of Destruction

The event kicked off with journalist Rebecca Davis delivering a humourous and spirited speech emphasizing the urgency to break away from the conventional and dreary discourse surrounding climate change. This topic is often boring and depressing but we can no longer afford to ignore it!

Rebecca points out that even the invasive Eastern grey squirrels running around our office parks are developing bigger feet and shorter spines to deal with the heat. How appropriate that African mammals are leading the way when it comes to adapting to climate change.

Next André de Ruyter, the former CEO of Eskom joined via Zoom, to talk about 5 important E’s.

  1. Energy Crises: South Africa needs power and wind and solar are the way to go.

  2. Economy: We need to capitalise on foreign investments in clean energy.

  3. Exports: The world is becoming more sustainable and carbon taxes are looming.

  4. Employment and Equity: Transitioning to clean energy could create 300 000 new jobs but instead of creating ghost towns we need to upskill coal industry workers.

  5. Environment: As global citizens, we need to put the health of our citizens and planet first.

De Ruyter also hammered home the fact that our water-poor southern hemisphere could free up an enormous amount of water by switching to renewable energy. Over 270 billion litres of water is used by Eskom each year in our current coal-dominant power system. This wasted water could mean the difference between life and death if we experience a megadrought in the future.

Renewable energy initiatives could mean more and cheaper power in the future

The panels that followed struck a beautiful balance of showing the realities of the climate crisis and the hope that innovative, sustainable solutions can bring. Amidst the sobering statistics, there was an air of optimism and urgency, a shared understanding that change is necessary and that it can indeed be achieved.

A personal highlight was the panel, Expectations of Youth where two brilliant young activists showed that Gen-Z are anything but lethargic when it comes to inspiring change. Raeesah Noor-Mohamed and Otsile Nkadimeng made it clear that the challenges our poorer communities face are linked to climate change. Those with the power need to step up!

Who Should Own Energy Production with Otsile Nkadimeng

Otsile Nkadimeng says the youth need to be informed, take action and be willing to vote. His call to action is to let young people lead, and that change will not come from those who have had power for years it will come from the new generation.

The event also featured an interesting interplay between artificial intelligence and climate change. Himanshu Gupta, the CEO and Co-Founder of ClimateAI discussed the potential of AI in identifying and predicting climate patterns more efficiently than humans. AI might one day be used to preempt climate risks and help us adapt to them.

Gugulethu Mahlangu, an aquaponics horticulturalists and CEO of House Harvest, demonstrated how AI helps her monitor and interpret data from the fish she uses to create nutrients for her vegetables, showing how AI can become an integral tool in climate-smart farming.

Poll conducted at the event

Kumi Naidoo, a human rights activist, voiced a grave warning against "Affluenza," the excessive consumerism that fuels the climate crisis. He urged for a reduction in consumption, stating that our survival hangs in the balance with a 1.5 degrees Celsius temperature rise marking a point of catastrophic and irreversible climate change. While he used to chant the phrase “1.5 to stay alive”, he now chants “1.5 we might stay alive”.

"Pessimism is a luxury we cannot afford" - Kumi Naidoo

A recurring theme throughout the event was the role of business in addressing the climate crisis. Discussions revolved around whether businesses were genuinely committed to sustainability or merely greenwashing. There was a unanimous call for the corporate world to leverage their resources and influence for environmental betterment, urging transparency and integrity in their sustainability commitments.

The Gathering was a collection of fascinating instances: ChatGPT delivered an Eminem-style rap addressing climate change, Bill McKibben, the author of the first book on climate change, said if we don’t win fast we’ll never win, and Richard Poplak proposed a flexitarian rather than a vegan diet as Africans are unlikely to braai broccoli.

The event concluded with a truly heartwrenching speech by Dr Imtiaz Sooliman founder of Gift of the Givers showing how his organization has helped mitigate the impact of climate change on humans, animals, and bees. It is sad but sobering to be reminded of the loss of life that awaits us if we do not act now.

V5 Digital votes for the first option!

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