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Centre for Environmental Rights – Advancing Environmental Rights in South Africa

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Pollution & Climate Change

Promote environmental justice, ensure compliance, and strengthen civil society participation.


South Africa has excellent environmental legislation, but non-compliance with and poor implementation and enforcement of those laws mean that pollution’s harmful impacts on the environment, human health and wellbeing are prevalent in large parts of the country, and most often unfairly discriminate against vulnerable and disadvantaged people.

Although fossil fuel burning is the chief cause of devastating climate change, South Africa persists with its predominant reliance on coal for electricity and has even approved the procurement of 2500MW of new coal-based electricity. This is despite the fact that cheaper, cleaner renewable energy is available, and despite South Africa’s commitment to significantly reduce its greenhouse gas emissions.

The CER’s Pollution & Climate Change team predominantly works in a collaborative project with partners groundWork, the South Durban Community Environmental Alliance, the Vaal Environmental Justice Alliance (VEJA), and the Highveld Environmental Justice Network – who all support several community-based organisations – to promote environmental justice, ensure compliance with environmental laws, and strengthen civil society participation in decisions on industrial pollution, waste, and land use; and with partners groundWork and Earthlife Africa Johannesburg to challenge the exploitation of coal for electricity.