Category Archives: Civil Society

Be alert to the risks of legitimising a hollow process for a new electricity IRP

Daily Maverick, Richard Worthington, 13 November, 2017

Imagine that, consistent with recent statements by the new Minister of Energy, an Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) for electricity is released in the next week or two, with a new generation build plan that mandates nuclear procurement. What would our response be?

For argument’s sake, let’s say the plan is scaled back to no more than half the total previously deemed necessary to achieve the benefits of “fleet procurement” (the 9.6 GW contemplated for a Rosatom contract), as a concession to widespread opposition.

Since there is a requirement for consultation, the minister would need to convene some kind of public engagement. There have been calls from various stakeholders for some kind of summit on energy (or the economy more generally), so even a very hastily convened event might be presented as being responsive to stakeholder concerns, as well as fulfilling requirements for the new IRP to be tabled in Parliament subsequently. What would we do?

Unlike the Integrated Energy Plan (IEP) that covers the entire energy system, the requirements for which are explicitly set out in the Energy Act of 2008, the process for seeking common ground on a policy-adjusted plan for the electricity system, before it is tabled for parliamentary approval, is not defined. Determinations by the minister that generation capacity will be procured must, as recently determined by the High Court (Western Cape), be subject to public hearings and Nersa consideration, but the new build plan of the IRP is nevertheless treated as binding…

… However, legitimising a hollow process on an IRP that will set parameters on electricity infrastructure investment for the coming decades carries enormous risk. Like in 2010, we might be assured that it will be regularly updated, but getting this one right – or at the very least ensuring it doesn’t mandate irresponsible procurement and greatly deepen our debt – is imperative for any prospect of reducing poverty and inequality…

he public narrative that we need nuclear power to meet our commitments to climate change mitigation is false, as is clear from work already released in the IRP documentation published for comment a year ago. Robust modelling by several agencies, including the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, shows that an electricity system without nuclear can meet and exceed our emissions reduction commitment at lower cost and with higher employment than when new nuclear is included. The Energy Research Centre modelled scenarios with a range of cost assumptions and even the most optimistic pricing fails to find nuclear power offering net benefits over renewable energy options…

… With a positive objective in mind – an electricity system contributing to the well-being of all South Africans, with a net value that is positive for society as a whole and over time, when full costs and life cycles are assessed – we must be prepared to reject what might be put forward. To do this, stakeholders not accustomed to parading their interests and positioning in public need to consider how to avoid being complicit in legitimising a plan designed to serve the elite, and to start talking about taking a collective stand on electricity and economic prudence.

 

Here is the full article

 

 

Press release: ENVIRONMENTAL AND FAITH-BASED NGOS CALL ON MINISTER OF ENERGY AND ESKOM TO HALT THE NUCLEAR DEAL TENDER PROCESS

SAFCEI and Earthlife Africa, 9 November, 2017.

Yesterday, the Southern African Faith Communities’ Environment Institute (SAFCEI) and
Earthlife Africa Johannesburg (ELA-JHB) issued letters to the Ministers of Energy and
Public Enterprises, Eskom and the National Energy Regulator of South Africa (NERSA). The
organisations have called on Minister Mahlobo and Eskom to immediately halt the nuclear
tender process, as outlined by the judgement decided in the Western Cape High Court in
April 2017.
This urgent call is underlined by the High Court judgement, which holds that any decision
made by South Africa’s Minister of Energy about new electricity generation, must be done
in conjunction with NERSA, through a lawful and procedurally fair Section 34
determination. This determination would have to specify why new nuclear energy
electricity generation is needed so urgently and what percentage of South Africa’s energy
mix it would fulfil.

According to Liziwe McDaid of SAFCEI, current news reports which highlight the Minister of
Energy David Mahlobo’s unexplained fast-tracking of the Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) by
4 months at the expense of clarity and certainty exacerbate concerns about the process.
In circumstances where the Minister of Finance Malusi Gigaba stated that that the South
African economy cannot afford nuclear currently, nor does the country need new intensive
energy production, Eskom’s readiness to commence the nuclear tender process
immediately upon IRP approval is cause for alarm.

“We cannot ignore the many serious allegations of state capture and irregular
procurement processes by senior Eskom officials at the parastatal which is currently under
scrutiny by Parliament’s Public Enterprises Committee,” says McDaid.

Makoma Lekalakala of ELA–JHB says that the High Court decision emphasises public
participation as part of the Section 34 determination processes. “Clarity and transparency
is needed with regard to procurement of energy and its related processes, including the
negotiation or renegotiation of International Governmental Agreements (IGAs).”

Should Eskom not provide this undertaking by Monday 13 th November 2017, SAFCEI and
ELA-JHB will assume that Eskom is determined to go ahead without following legal and
constitutional Section 34 determination. An urgent application to the High Court may be
sought as urgent relief to ensure that the High Court judgment is respected and that
government acts openly and transparently. Both SAFCEI and ELA-JHB are members of a
Campaign for a Just Energy Future, a national movement geared at mobilising South
African citizens to hold government accountable for its energy decisionsENDS

Issued by Erna Curry and Natasha Adonis, on behalf of SAFCEI and ELA-JHB.
For more information and interviews, contact:
 Liz McDaid 0827315643 /liziwe@mweb.co.za
 Erna Curry SAFCEI 0744-661- 238 / erna@safcei.org.za
 Natasha Adonis 0797-999- 654 / adonisnatasha@yahoo.co.uk

Joint media release: What we expect from SA’s Integrated Resource Plan for electricity

Centre for Environmental Rights (CER), 9 november, 2017

Media reports indicate that the Minister of Energy has instructed the Department of Energy to publish the long-overdue update to the crucially important Integrated Resource Plan for Electricity 2010-2030 (IRP) within the next week.

Energy Minister David Mahlobo (as at 13 November, 2017 anyway). Image: moneyweb

At this critical juncture in South Africa’s energy future, our choices have to be based on sound, accurate, current, and accepted energy policy that will benefit all South Africans. The Life After Coal/Impilo Ngaphandle Kwamalahle Campaign (made up of groundWorkthe Centre for Environmental Rights and Earthlife Africa, Johannesburg) and Greenpeace Africa would like to reiterate our position on what we expect to see in the IRP.

 

We also express our alarm that, despite earlier  statements in Parliament by the Department of Energy that there would be provision for further consultation on the draft IRP, the Minister has since suggested that a final policy-adjusted IRP will be promulgated without further public participation. To date, stakeholders have only had an opportunity to consider and comment on the draft IRP base case and assumptions published a year ago in November 2016. An open and democratic IRP process requires first, a new base case taking account of those comments, and then open discussion of any variations that will be taken into account in the drafting of a policy-adjusted IRP.  A policy-adjusted IRP without further public participation can only be viewed as illegitimate.

Op-Ed: A just transition from climate change and unemployment – a trade union perspective

Daily Maverick, 7 November, 2017

The Alternative Information & Development Centre’s (AIDC) latest research – One Million Climate Jobs – Moving South Africa forward on a low-carbon, wage-led and sustainable path – makes clear that there are potentially hundreds of thousands of jobs in championing low carbon development, as a complimentary strategy to a wage-led development path. By JOSEPH MATHUNJWA.

The global economy is facing numerous structural challenges. With the looming fourth economic revolution characterised by even more technological development and mechanisation, the future of productive labour is bleak. Most unskilled and semi-skilled workers are likely to lose their jobs. Even some skilled workers are not spared from this emerging catastrophe, as numerous job categories – such as brick-layers – are increasingly becoming redundant.

This points to the urgent need for planning, for conscious investment in job-rich, growth opportunities that enable economies to build productive capacity in labour intensive sectors. One way of achieving this is to strengthen wage led growth, which, in turn, stimulates aggregate demand through enlarged household incomes. Without a dramatic increase in the wages of mine workers, farm workers and all employed people in our country, we will never be able to deal with South Africa’s most urgent problems: inequality, mass unemployment and poverty.

Since unemployment is the greatest determinant of poverty and income inequality, we can expect these, too, to worsen. Already, in 2015, 30.4-million people, that is, 55.5% of the population live on less than R441 per month, or less than R15 per day. The fact that 10% of South Africa’s population earn around 60% of all income, points to South Africa’s widening inequality. Even more alarming is that the richest 10% of the population own at least 90–95% of all assets.

With these terrible statistics in mind, it becomes redundant to repeat what we have been saying as a trade union for a long time, namely, SA urgently requires the redistribution of wealth.

When the millions of working people in our country can afford what the few take for granted – a television set, a washing machine, dining room table, etc – we create the conditions for developing the economies of scale that can sustain local industries from the intense competition coming from a globalised economy. In this way, we will be able to make in-roads into the almost 10 million people who are out of work, out of income and out of dignity.

The importance of the climate jobs work the Alternative Information & Development Centre (AIDC) has been leading is that it identifies where the jobs can be created. As AIDC’s latest research – One Million Climate Jobs – Moving South Africa forward on a low-carbon, wage-led and sustainable path – makes clear, there are potentially hundreds of thousands of jobs in championing low carbon development, as the complimentary strategy to a wage-led development path.

The AIDC’s solidarity with AMCU (the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union) is greatly appreciated. It is a solidarity based on a shared approach and conviction of the urgent need to confront the numerous challenges facing our economy, the people whose needs the economy is supposed to meet and the sustainability of human life on a planet heating to unsustainable levels.

Here is the full article

 

 

Op-Ed: A call to arms – the climate change crisis amidst mass unemployment

Jonathan Neale, Daily Maverick, 29 October, 2017.

We have been living through a persisting global economic crisis. A global crisis of climate change is happening at the same time. In South Africa we face the reality of a massive jobs crisis. We need solutions to all three. Urgently. By JONATHAN NEALE.

A new 64-page report – One Million Climate Jobs: Moving South Africa forward towards a low-carbon, wage-led, and sustainable path – by the Alternative Information & Development Centre (AIDC) provides the detail, with extensive research citations, showing how this can be done and financed.  The focus is on South Africa, but the remedies are broadly replicable across the globe.

The whole world is full of voices saying there is a stark choice between jobs and action on climate. In South Africa, they tell us to choose between jobs for coal miners and saving the planet.

The either/or choice is misconceived. There are many immediately available alternatives – with (insufficiently recognised) sources of finance available.

These alternatives include:

  • A decent public-sector job or monthly government grant for everyone who loses their job because of a shift to renewable energy.
  • Monthly government grants for every subsistence farmer who loses their livelihood because of climate change.
  • Creating a million jobs by a determined tackling of climate change.

The urgency of climate change makes meeting these needs urgent.  The most serious of the climate changes include:

Drought, heat and storms kill – and will increasingly kill –crops. In the economic system we live in, that means famines.

Rising sea levels and terrible storms flood and ruin – and will increasingly flood and ruin – many of the world’s cities. The recent floods in Johannesburg and Durban and the havoc in Durban Harbour are timely harbingers…

..

And, as climate change bites, poor rural people will need more land, and better land. Land reform is their second requirement.

Everywhere, there is the need for jobs. Private companies and the market have created unemployment. A publicly-driven attack on climate change can create a million climate jobs.

Here’s how:

We need to cut emissions from burning coal, oil and gas by 90%. Instead of cutting back on production and consumption – the standard expectations – we can stop burning coal and gas. We can make almost all our electricity from wind and solar power.

We can provide buses and cars that are comfortable, fast, reliable and cheap. While taking many cars off the roads, we can run cars, buses and trains on renewable electricity, not oil.

We can insulate houses so they lose less energy. We can heat homes with solar energy. We can build millions of new public houses that are heated and cooled with renewable electricity.

We can transform industry and agriculture to use less energy.

And, to do all this, will create at least a million jobs.

Renewable Energy                     250,000 jobs
Public Transport                        390,000 jobs
Construction                             200,000 jobs
Agriculture                               100,000 jobs
Waste, Industry and Education   110,000 jobs

TOTAL                                  1,000,000 jobs

With those jobs, research shows we can cut South Africa’s climate changing emissions by at least 75% in 20 years.

Here is the full article.