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  • Rovindu Ambagolla

World Politics >>> South Africa and their Transition Into Renewable Energy

Picture credit: Michael Scofield

South Africa’s primary source of energy which is used to power the country is coal, with almost 77% of the country's power being supplied from coal power plants. However, the country is keen to move away from its dependency on coal, and transition into greener alternatives.

South Africa has been recently approached by representatives from France, Germany, US and the UK in an attempt to strike a deal to help South Africa realise these sustainability goals. Their aim is to help South Africa loosen their grip on coal as the major driving force of power in the region in exchange for $5 billion. With this money the goal is to develop more sustainable energy sources and help the communities affected by reduction in coal and fossil fuel based power plants.

These powerful, developed countries want to push investment in this sector as much as

possible and induce smaller nations to also follow their footsteps. The aim is to try and meet the sustainability goals and deadlines they have set to reduce the harmful effects of global warming. They see potential in South Africa as they have capital markets to support green finance initiatives, and the country already has aging coal power plants, so it is a perfect time to switch to more sustainable energy sources.

Picture Source: Pixabay

However South Africa is in a battle with itself. Whilst the envoy of representatives from Europe and the US met with the minister for public enterprise, the energy minister of South Africa, Gwede Mantashe, has been meeting with mine workers and has been continuously campaigning for the use of coal in the country.

This is because there are 90,000 coal miners in South Africa and they house one of the biggest reserves of coal. But what all this means is that South Africa is headed in the wrong direction as their greenhouse gas emissions (on a per capita basis) is larger than China’s emissions. In addition to that, continuing dependency on coal as an energy source will start to attract tariffs on South African products which have a carbon heavy process.

This might be South Africa’s last chance to change its heavy dependency from coal.

October 07th 2021 | 5.30 PM

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