South Africa must forge its own pathway towards becoming a low carbon emissions economy, says Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan.
The Minister was speaking during a panel discussion at the Presidential Climate Commission’s National Colloquium on South Africa’s long-term electricity planning and the Just Energy Transition (JET).
The colloquium brought together government, civil society, religious groups, organised labour and business to discuss the Presidential Climate Commission (PCC) recommendations on the JET and electricity.
“There’s a new global reality arising from the war in Europe and they’re quite comfortable making all sorts of zigzags in terms of their planning and the just transition as well, but they want to dictate how we should do things and meet their requirements.
“The reality is that war has changed the energy scenario. It has changed the pathways… We have to take that reality into account as we map out the JET pathway in South Africa,” Gordhan said on Friday.
He emphasised that as the country begins its transition, the reality of energy security must also come into sharp focus in both the short- and long-term.
“We need to, at all stages, continue to keep in mind how we are going to meet the energy requirements for both our citizens and small and big businesses. We need to take into account the current Eskom reality that it cannot… seem to consistently produce more than 23 000MW, whereas the demand is closer to 30 000MW and beyond almost every single day during peak hours.
“The IRP 19 [Integrated Resource Plan 2019] needs to be modified so that we take into account these new realities. Perhaps the most urgent thing is how… we get the quickest input of new megawatts into our system. Without 4 000 to 6 000 more megawatts availability of new energy, as urgently as possible, we’re not going to cope with the immediate requirements.”
Turning to funding of the worldwide energy transition, Gordhan said developed nations have a responsibility to assist developing countries such as South Africa to transition.
“Who is going to finance all of this? Where is the money going to come from?
“South Africa might have additional capacity [over]many developing countries but it does not have the capacity to fund all of the changes that need to take place in relation to climate change. What responsibility is the developed world taking for funding climate change adaption programmes?” Gordhan asked.
In her address to the colloquium, Minister of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment, Barbara Creecy, echoed Gordhan’s sentiments.
“An area that we need to look at is the tension between developed and developing countries. The Paris Agreement says developed countries have a responsibility to finance the transitions in developing countries.
“The origins of the JET investment plans come from the offer that was made by some of the developed countries at COP26 [Conference of the Parties 26] to start to provide financing for the start of the transition in South Africa.
“That offer, in my view, is part of the obligations that those developed countries carry as a result of them being signatories to the Paris Agreement and as a result of them having caused the problems that we face. They’re not doing us any favours. It’s part of their obligations,” Creecy said.
She said this financing must benefit all South Africans and that no one must be left behind as South Africa transitions towards low carbon emissions.
“There are those who are outside of the existing system; those who are workers and communities in the coal value chain; those who are subsistence agriculturalists, women and their families. All of those sections of our society that are going to be impacted by climate change and who are going to carry the risks of the transition.
“There’s a very strong voice coming out that those South African communities must be beneficiaries of the transition, and they must be beneficiaries not just in terms of the projects and programmes themselves, but that society as a whole must benefit from new forms of industrialisation and wealth creation,” she said.
Author: Bryan Groenendaal