Energy Transformation in South Africa (Western Cape)

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South Africa is the world 13th largest emitter of greenhouse gases. Their contribution to climate change has been seen as just as extensive as the rest of nations. As a member of Africa, they effectively recognize the effect that they will have on the climate impacts happening in the region. Even then some, they are making their way out of a water crisis affecting the Western Cape. This is just now happening as the severe two year drought is coming to an end following the present rainfall that has been taking place this winter, which has secured adequate water level reserves to be available throughout 2019.

It is rather important to note that the monopoly on energy supply is held by a governmental entity known as Eskom. This provision over the years has seen its share of scandals from investing in nuclear energy to benefit russian corporations to supplying and outsourcing coal production mines to the corrupt family of the Guptas in India. These secretly disclosed deals happened within the economic formally recognized group of BRICS, comprising of Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa. Recently following the removal of president Zuma, the new president, Cyril Ramaphosa has forced this governmental entity known as Eskom to sign on to newer phases of relying on renewable energy with the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement (REIPPP) Programme. The country currently sits running on about 5% of renewable energy, including solar and wind.

Yesterday, I attended my first governmental stakeholder meeting with the community. This was hosted by the government of Western Cape, South Africa. We briefly engaged with criticisms or concerns held by the public regarding a new act going into effect which would effectively be an implementation plan to adhere to agreed future policy agreed upon during the Paris climate Change Accord. The bill would effectively establish a minister of environmental affairs and a committee. The new minister and committee would effectively establish a presence in the form of determinants to bring about a change in policy which holds business and citizens accountable with the first ever carbon emissions tax. The thinking behind this is that it would provide an incentive to reduce emissions of the years. The implementation of this new bill would be a top down approach where nationals reach down into municipalities to encourage monitoring of emissions.

The criticisms of the bill align with following through with educating the public with transparency of the impact of the climate change action taking place, the funding of such an initiative, how there may be overloading happening with municipalities involving excessive work, and how there could be more assertive language in the bill. Many of the activist and organizations in the room effectively realized that the damage of climate change will mostly go to impact those living in the poorest brackets. They wanted to ensure that there was force in what general bill had to offer.

I think generally people were hopeful about something being on the table and saw the next step being to encourage what is know as a Just Energy Transition, where the community is educated on energy transformation and have some stakeholder ownership within energy production.