South Africa’s Presidential Climate Commission Report slammed as flawed, simplistic and inadequate by Freedom Foundation

Open- Ed

  • The recently released Draft Report of the Presidential Climate Commission (PCC) (the “Report) is disappointingly flawed, simplistic and inadequate.
  • A dispassionate analysis shows it as lacking depth, expertise and professionalism according to industry experts.
  • This is according to the Freedom Foundation (Izwe Lami). 

This Assessment is a response to the Report and highlights the failures and omissions in the approach taken by the authors, who, curiously, are not named, which in itself is disturbing. We should know who is driving PCC thinking, which might become South Africa’s energy policy. Contentious responses to climate change concerns are driving energy policy, and therefore must be examined rigorously and tested by all who care about where the country and climate are headed. The focus must be on enabling the country to generate the electricity it needs to create growth and real jobs. Only then, can the laudable if flawed ideology of renewable energy sources take centre stage.

Despite worldwide hysteria and the adoption of “with us or against us” polarising positions, there is considerable and continuing scientific debate on the facts and causalities. However, there is no debate on the enormous sums of money on the table from the industrialised West to induce developing nations, such as South Africa, to abandon its wealth of natural energy resources to focus on foreign renewable energy (RE) sources. This pressure on us from international interests, is, in our opinion, short-sighted, counterproductive and unaffordable for the foreseeable future, although the appeal for many politicians. Industrialised nations became rich and developed on the back of coal and other fossil fuels. Now South Africa and others are being pressured to pay the price of forgoing that which these developed nations greedily consumed to become wealthy.

So that there is no confusion or obfuscation, deliberate or otherwise, we are not against RE, nor do we push coal or any other agenda, although we do believe nuclear power holds the primary key to future prosperity being clean, affordable, reliable and efficient. Nuclear ‘ticks all the boxes’.

However, our message is that South Africa will benefit maximally if it adopts a balanced energy mix using the appropriate energy in the optimum context.

Abstract

The PCC’s Draft Report supporting Recommendations for South Africa’s Electricity System (May 2023), does not use as a foundation, the economic and social well-being of the citizens of our country. Instead, it works from a basic assumption that it will recommend renewable energy because it ‘feels philosophically good’, not because it is the correct answer as determined by a sound engineering and economics investigation, or national interest. As a result, the Draft Report needs to be scrutinised rigorously, and all implications considered carefully, against the backdrop of South Africa’s current and future energy needs, before we commit ourselves irrevocably to a non-fossil fuel and non-nuclear scenario in a developing country blessed with an abundance of fossil and nuclear energy resources.

Conspicuously missing from the Draft Report is any reference to any competent Socio-Economic Impact Assessment (SEIA) of the impacts of any radical change in the methods of the production of electricity.

Electricity is an absolute underlying foundation on which any economy is structured and subsequently functions. There is a direct international correlation between wealth and electricity; one of the strongest relationships in social science. As the saying goes, you ‘fiddle at your peril’. The tragic national experience of load-shedding has illuminated this reality starkly.

An additional concern inherent in the PCC Draft Report, is an apparent adherence to foreign political ideologies exerting pressure for the headlong implementation of what has been termed misleadingly a ‘Just Transition’. It is important to know who created this term and why.

Is any such transition really ‘just’ and if so, for whom and at whose expense? Who gets sacrificed to achieve a ‘just transition’ as required by amorphous others?

The citizens of South Africa must not find their dreams of economic prosperity, equality of opportunity, health and welfare curtailed by foreign desires to score political points by ‘taming’ South Africa in order to subject it to their commands, and what appear to be thought experiments.

Our energy sovereignty is supremely important, and it is essential for us to maintain control over it, in the interests of all our people.

The PCC Draft Report leaves critical and informed observers disappointed and uncomfortable.

This Assessment indicates a disturbing number of significant inadequacies and biases, which are indicated here in a brief manner. However, this Assessment reveals and presents a sufficiently illuminating picture to indicate to any thinking reader that the PCC Draft Report should not inform electricity policy.

Link to the full Freedom Foundation (Izwe Lami) response to the PCC report HERE 

Author: Freedom Foundation (Izwe Lami)

Freedom Foundation (Izwe Lami) is a newly established policy institute created by the old Free Market Foundation creator, Leon Louw, to continue and invigorate its work and values. Email: izwelamifoundation@gmail.com

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