As the world moves towards a low-carbon development trajectory, failure to decarbonise the South African economy - one of the most carbon-intensive in the world - is threatening South Africa's exports and will weaken an already fragile manufacturing sector.
A new study by Trade & Industrial Policy Strategies (TIPS) highlights these risks. Clear solutions lie in a step change in how South Africa produces and uses its energy; renewable energy and energy efficiency should be at the core of the country's response to the electricity crisis rather than as a bolt-on. Proactively transitioning to a low-carbon economy will also create new industries and opportunities.
While the benefits of a just transition to an inclusive green economy have been well-documented, (such as more and better jobs, lower poverty and inequality, stronger social cohesion, a more resilient economy and a healthier environment), this has not triggered incisive action in South Africa.
The transition remains stuck in words, dialogues and unfulfilled promises. The power of the "carrot" appears still too soft. The hard reality of the "stick" may well bring it home. Indeed, the risks of not transitioning to a low-carbon trajectory are even greater than the rewards associated with a green and...