Welcome, my name is Georges Alexandre Lenferna, although I typically go by Alex. I have dedicated the last decade of my life to working on climate justice through teaching, research, activism, and advocacy. In April 2019, I started work as South African Climate Justice Campaigner with 350 Africa. Before then, I was engaging in a range of climate justice advocacy in the United States, while completing a PhD in Philosophy at the University of Washington. My PhD dissertation was Equitably Ending the Fossil Fuel Era: Climate Justice, Capital and the Carbon Budget. I am currently working on turning it into a publicly accessible book. I have also written and published widely on climate justice, on topics like divestment, geoengineering, carbon pricing, climate migration, and climate reparations. All my research and writing is freely available here. If you’re interested in connecting, you can contact me at: alexlenferna [at] gmail dot com, or connect on Twitter or Facebook, which I use primarily to share content on environmental, climate and social justice. Read on if you’d like to know a little bit more about me and my background.
A Little About Me
Both sides of my family are from the small island nation of Mauritius. In 1983, my parents moved to Johannesburg, South Africa, where I was born, grew up and went to school. At the age of 19, I moved from Johannesburg to the town of Makhanda in the Eastern Cape of South Africa to attend (the university unfortunately still known as) Rhodes University. After completing a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy and Organisational Psychology, I went on to study a Master of Arts in Philosophy focusing on global justice, poverty, and environmental ethics. In the second year of my masters, I had the honour and the privilege of being selected as a Mandela Rhodes Scholar – an experience which introduced me to incredible leaders from across the African continent and further inspired me to dedicate my life to fighting for climate justice.
Alongside my studies in South Africa, I was involved in, helped found and/or led a number of primarily youth- and student-driven social justice, climate justice, and sustainable development-focused organisations and campaigns. As part of those organisations, I worked on a number of projects, including: using indigenous amaXhosa knowledge to help low income communities build sustainable resilience; a project to promote social and environmental sustainability through wildlife conservation; a campaign to fight against proposed fracking plans in South Africa; and a campaign advocating for South Africa to put in place a robust and meaningful carbon tax.
After my studies in South Africa, I worked with the Environmental Learning and Research Centre on community-based sustainable development and education projects. I also worked with the Applied Centre for Climate and Earth Systems Science, where I helped coordinate interdisciplinary educational workshops on earth systems science for university students across southern Africa. Then in 2012, I was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to undertake a PhD in the United States – I had applied because I thought the United States was the metaphorical belly of the beast where action on climate change was most urgently and ethically needed. So I packed my bags and headed to the United States, where for six years I researched, taught and advocated for climate justice. During my time in the States, I engaged in a range of advocacy on fossil fuel divestment, carbon pricing, pushing forward a green new deal, and pushing for international climate finance for the global south.
In 2018, I was awarded the Endeavour Research Fellowship which gave me the opportunity to undertake 6 months of climate justice research and advocacy in Australia, the world’s largest coal exporter and a major climate polluter, ranked last in the world on climate action. I served as a research fellow at the University of New South Wales’ Practical Justice Initiative’s Climate Justice Research Stream. While there I also got involved with the Stop Adani Movement and the Repower Campaign to push Australia to 100% clean energy and stop new fossil fuel projects. After my time in Australia, I returned to the States to finish and defend my PhD, which I completed in December 2018. I then returned back to Johannesburg, South Africa to spend time with family, work on turning my PhD dissertation into a book, and in April 2019, I began work as South African Climate Justice Campaigner with 350.org.
For a fuller work, advocacy, and academic history, you can view my CV here.