17 May 2019

South Africa: Lessons On a 'Just Transition' From Fossil Fuels to Renewable Energy

Photo: African Utilities Week
The 2019 African Utilities Week at the Cape Town International Convention Centre.

Moving to what is termed a just transition is not an overnight event. It requires careful planning, implementation, oversight and high-level political guarantees. Thankfully, in South Africa, we can draw on some lessons about what has worked and failed in other countries which have been in a similar position.

The truth about climate change is that it will make our collective environmental conditions in Sub-Saharan Africa much harsher than what has been experienced before. The impacts of climate-related weather events on Africans indicates the severity of the situation we are facing. The impacts of Tropical Cyclone Idai in Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi are an alarming reminder of how climate change will manifest on the African continent and how African nations are equipped to deal with said events.

The current temperature warming potential for Sub-Saharan Africa is almost double that of the global average, meaning two degrees warming globally is actually 3.5 to four degrees in our region. This applies equally to South Africa and, if recent droughts have taught us anything, it is that we are under-equipped and under-resourced to deal with regular extreme weather events.

It is common knowledge that extreme weather events are increasingly becoming the norm. In...

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