South Africa's relatively unique position as both a victim and perpetrator of the climate crisis opens up the possibility of breaking its present mould.
Ten years ago, at the Copenhagen summit, South Africa made a commitment to reduce its massive carbon emissions by 42% by 2025. But two years later, it began building two of the biggest coal-fired power stations in the world, meaning it has fallen far short of the emission targets it set for itself. It built these stations at huge cost to the fiscus despite the lower cost options of renewables.
It is now the 14th-biggest polluter in the world and remains in the top three when it comes to per capita calculations. This context and other sets of inaction were why President Cyril Ramaphosa was refused a platform at the UN Climate Action Summit 2019. The government has become part of the club of polluters and in doing so has lost its moral authority on the African continent. From a thought leader on climate change, it has become an unashamed perpetrator. But the fact is that we also remain a victim, a climate hot spot that is highly vulnerable.
In Sweden, the carbon tax is $132...