South Africa’s Just Energy Transition: Here’s what we know so far
UK envoy to the Presidential Climate Finance Task Team says solar power would be the fastest way to alleviate Eskom's problems.
It has to be noted who is historically responsible for carbon emissions, and ask critically what it would take to achieve just transitions in poorer regions. Picture for illustration: iStock
South Africa’s Just Energy Transition Partnership (JETP) won’t happen overnight. In fact, the first phase of the JETP will take about 3-5 years to finalise.
Presidential Climate Finance Task Team leader Daniel Mminele said the JETP is a complex mix of plans that requires extensive levels of stakeholder consultation, which won’t be skipped or overlooked.
One of the main concerns underpinning South Africa’s ambitious Just Energy Transition plans is how the move to green energy will affect coal-dependent communities and workers in the sector.
Minele said workers, trade unions and communities dependent on the fossil fuel value chain would be extensively consulted and included in South Africa’s Just Transition planning.
“Job creation is hampered by power supply issues – we hear understanding about that from unions,” said Minele.
International climate envoy experienced load shedding first-hand
Climate envoys from partnership countries, including the European Union, France, Germany, the United Kingdom and the United States, got a first-hand taste of load shedding during their visit.
Officials had been in the country for more than three weeks to ‘take stock of what needed to be done around the development of investment and financing offers’.
While details around the first phase of plans for the Just Energy Transition have not yet been revealed, with official announcements expected in October.
UK climate envoy and international chairperson of the group, John Murton, said that solar power would be the fastest way to introduce new capacity onto Eskom‘s struggling grid.
Murton also rejected reports that the UK and other European countries had been able to move between coal-fired power and renewables as and when their countries needed it, while insisting that African countries clean up their carbon emissions.
“There is no dash back to coal in the UK. Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine caused us to review our energy security because no one can steal the wind or sun,” said Murton.
“Currently, the UK gets more power from offshore wind planta, which has also led to lower energy bills for UK citizens,” he added.
He said the UK is hoping to move away from coal energy by 2024.
What if the money is stolen?
Murton and Minele also debunked sentiments that the South African government, particularly Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe, was dragging its feet on renewable energy, saying ‘a lot of groundwork had taken place recently’ to allow for a green energy mix.
When asked whether international envoy’s felt safe investing in South Africa given the country’s notorious reputation for corruption and theft of state resources, Minele explained that mechanisms and real-time reporting would closely monitor financial transactions.
Murton, meanwhile, vaguely responded that ‘guarantees would be built into the agreements.’