South Africa: 'Utterly Redundant' Electricity Supply Plan Finds Favour

opinion

Why is the Minister of Environmental Affairs, ostensibly the lead agent on implementing climate change mitigation, championing fossil fuels? One might hope that having the Minister of Environmental Affairs and lead agent on climate change at the head of the oceans-economy initiative would serve to temper enthusiasm for expanding our fossil fuel industries, but such hopes are utterly dashed by Edna Molewa's latest decision.

On 30 January Minister Edna Molewa issued a decision approving a new coal-fired power plant that would, according to the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), increase our greenhouse gas emissions by 9.9 Mega-tonnes CO2e per annum. This equals 4% of our national greenhouse gas emissions. While the electricity supply sector accounts for about 45% of total emissions, recent profound shifts in technology costs mean that emissions reduction in this sector has become a cost-negative opportunity, as illustrated in research by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), and by other institutions.

Minister Molewa is also the leader of the Ocean's Phakisa - the first project under Operation Phakisa, a Presidential initiative modelled on a Malaysian programme for accelerating economic activity - sometimes referred to as the "blue" or oceans-economy programme. It is a vehicle for state...

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