by SAVIOUS KWINIKA
JOHANNESBURG – SOUTH Africa must urgently reduce its carbon and greenhouse gas emissions lest it experiences the dire social and economic consequences.
This is according to President Cyril Ramaphosa as he outlined the government’s plans to enhance a transition to a decarbonised economy.
He said climate change presented serious health, environmental and economic risks for the country.
Ramaphosa said these risks will have increasingly damaging effects on human health, water availability, food production, infrastructure and migration.
“Many South Africans are already feeling the effects of climate change through drought and flooding, which have an effect on their livelihoods,” the president stated in his weekly letter on Monday.
“As a country, we are developing detailed plans to enable a just transition,” Ramaphosa assured.
The electricity sector, which contributes 41 percent of South Africa’s greenhouse gas emissions, will be the first phase of the transition.
“It will be the quickest industry to decarbonise and will have a beneficial impact across the economy,” the president said.
Ramaphosa said his government would be decommissioning and repurposing coal-fired power stations, and investing in new low-carbon generation capacity, such as renewables.
He said the government will also pursue ‘green’ industrialisation, such as manufacturing using green technology and a shift to the production of electric vehicles.
Ramaphosa said while there were economic challenges and risks, there were huge economic opportunities that the country must seize.
South Africa, he said, is endowed with abundant resources that can be harnessed to open up new frontiers of investment and growth and build a new economy in areas like green hydrogen.
The government is meanwhile working with different partners across society in mining towns in Mpumalanga province to assess the potential impact of a move away from coal.
Eskom will be undertaking a pilot project at its Komati power station, which is due to shut down its last coal-fired unit next year, to produce power through renewable energy.
Cabinet recently approved the updated Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC), which sets out our emissions targets towards net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.
South Africa is engaging international development partners on a just transition financing facility to support our decarbonisation.
“As the world prepares for the COP26 climate summit, there is a window of opportunity to mobilise additional climate finance,” Ramaphosa said.
COP26 is set for October 31 to November 12.
– CAJ News