South Africa: SONA a Lightbulb Moment for Ramaphosa

14 February 2020
Greenpeace Africa (Johannesburg)
press release

In response to the President’s State of the Nation address, Greenpeace Africa’s Political Advisor, Happy Khambule, has said: "Greenpeace Africa welcomes President Cyril Ramaphosa's announcement at SONA that the climate crisis is being taken seriously. Recognising the difficulty and complexity of the situation brought on by Eskom's self-imposed years of decay, the President has displayed leadership and a commitment to safeguarding South Africa's future by prioritising rooftop solar. It is also commendable that the President has highlighted the voice and brave action of Ayakha Melithafa in his address.

"Restructuring the electricity supply industry away from a polluting monopoly is a step in the right direction. However, it falls short of solving Eskom’s addiction to dirty coal, which is creating our current ‘managed’ blackouts while devastating communities with toxic air and grotesque water wastage. The proposal could do more to centre the utility's future on renewable energy rather than reckless extensions of Eskom's ageing fleet of highly polluting coal-fired power stations.

"A Just Transition towards renewable energy needs to be at the core of Eskom's new business plan, and it is good that the President has seen the light in this regard. However, Greenpeace Africa believes that extreme caution must be applied to the utility's debt restructuring proposals; throwing people’s pension money at a utility in a death spiral is risky, especially without any evidence that it is on a healthier trajectory.

"We now need to see bold action for people and the climate. Keeping his promise to Ayakha - and all young South Africans - means the President must take a decisive stand to phase out coal. Coal kills, and only exacerbates the air pollution and climate crises,” ended Khambule.

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