South Africa’s environmental affairs department has accessed US $80 million from international sources to assist in preserving flora and fauna amidst the impact of
climate change, Minister Edna Molewa said on Thursday.
“US 30.6 million of this total has already been approved and a further US$49,8m already endorsed. These internationally-supported initiatives will promote organic waste-to-energy and other low-carbon technologies in small and medium-scale enterprises,” Molewa told reporters in Cape Town.
She was addressing journalists at Parliament before presenting her department’s budget vote in the National Assembly.
Molewa said South Africa was gradually moving towards the use of greener energy, with a target set for 2030.
“By 2030, South Africa will have an efficient, lower-carbon public transport system that makes everyday use of private vehicles an unnecessary extravagance. By 2030 our houses, offices and commercial building will no longer be energy drains, but rather energy sources – supplying electricity to communities through smart meters and smart grids,” she said.
She said through the climate change response policy and the green economy strategy, Africa’s industrial and economic powerhouse would continue to work diligently to meet targets on emissions reduction and air quality standards with the ultimate aim of transitioning to a low-carbon, climate resilient economy and society.
Molewa said in a bid to boost the buoyant tourism sector, her department had an initiative to improve service delivery and base infrastructure in the country’s national parks.
“We are also repairing flood damaged bulk infrastructure. An amount of R950 million has been allocated to SANParks for infrastructural development, while another R42 million has been allocated for road improvements for the period of 2015/16 to 2017/18. An additional R12 million has been allocated to repair of SANParks’ flood damaged infrastructure for 2015/16,” she said.
“These initiatives create sustainable employment for many communities adjacent to national parks in remote and rural areas; they also contribute to driving rural and regional sustainable development.”
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Africa is experiencing a revolution towards cleaner energy through renewables but the story has hardly been told to the world, says Achim Steiner, Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).
Steiner, who had been advocating for renewable energy at the U.N. Climate Change Conference in Lima, said Africa is on the right path toward a low carbon footprint by tapping into its plentiful renewable resources – hydro, geothermal, solar and wind.
“There is a revolution going on in the continent of Africa and the world is not noticing it. You can go to Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, Namibia, and Mozambique. I think we will see renewable energy being the answer to Africa’s energy problems in the next fifteen years,” Steiner said in an interview with IPS.
Sharing the example of the UNEP headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya, Steiner told IPS that the decision was taken that “if UNEP is going to be centred with its offices in the African continent on the Equator, there can be no reason why we are not using renewable energy. So we installed photovoltaic panels on our roof which we share with UN Habitat, 1200 people, and we produce 750,000 kilowatt hours of electricity every year, that is enough for the entire building to operate.”
He noted that although it will take UNEP between eight and 10 years to pay off the installation, UNEP will have over 13 years of electricity without paying monthly or annual power bills. “It is the best business proposition that a U.N. body has ever made in terms of paying for electricity for a building,” he said.
According to Steiner, the “revolution” is already happening in East Africa, especially in Kenya and Ethiopia which are both targeting renewable energy, especially geothermal energy.
“Kenya plans to triple its electricity generation up to about 6000 megawatts in the next five years. More than 90 percent of the planned power is to come from geothermal, solar and wind power,” he said.
Kenya currently runs a geothermal power development corporation which invites tenders from private investor bids and is establishing a wind power firm likely to be the largest in Africa with a capacity of 350 megawatts of power under a public-private partnership.
In Ethiopia, expansion of the Aluto-Langano geothermal power plant will increase geothermal generation capacity from the current 7 MW to 70 MW. The expansion project is being financed by the Ethiopian government (10 million dollars), a 12 million dollar grant from the Government of Japan, and a 13 million dollar loan from the World Bank.
Renewable energy has costs but also benefits
Phillip Hauser, Vice President of GDF Suez Energy Latin America, told IPS that geothermal power is a good option for countries in Africa with that potential, but it comes with risks.
“It is very site-dependent. There can be geothermal projects that are relatively cost efficient and there are others that are relatively expensive. It is a bit like the oil and gas industry. You have to find the resource and you have to develop the resource. Sometimes you might drill and you don’t find anything – that is lost investment,” Hauser told IPS.
Steiner admitted that like any other investment, renewable energy has some limitations, including the need for upfront initial capital and the cost of technology, but he said that countries with good renewable energy policies would attract the necessary private investments.
“We are moving in a direction where Africa will not have to live in a global fuel market in which one day you have to pay 120 dollars for a barrel of crude oil, then the next day you get it at 80 dollars and before you know it, it is doubled,” he said.
“So if you are in Africa and decide to exploit your wind, solar and geothermal resources, you will get yourself freedom from the global energy markets, and you will connect the majority of your people without waiting for thirty years until the power lines cross every corner of the country,” Steiner added.
A recent assessment by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) of Africa’s renewable energy future found that solar and wind power potential existed in at least 21 countries, and biomass power potential in at least 14 countries.
The agency, which supports countries in their transition to a sustainable energy future, has yet to provide a list of countries with geothermal power potential but almost all the countries around the Great Rift Valley in south-eastern Africa – Uganda, Ethiopia, Kenya and Tanzania among others – have already identified geothermal sites, with Kenya being the first to use a geothermal site to add power to its grid.
IRENA Director-General Adnan Z. Amin told IPS that the agency’s studies shows that not only can renewable energy meet the world’s rising demand, but it can do so more cheaply, while contributing to limiting global warming to under 2 degrees Celsius – the widely-cited tipping point in the climate change debate.
He said the good news in Africa is that apart from the resources that exist, there is a growing body of knowledge across African expert institutions that would help the continent to exploit its virgin renewable energy potential.
What is needed now, he explained, is for countries in Africa to develop the economic case for those resources supported by targeted government policies to help developers and financiers get projects off the ground.
The IRENA assessment found that in 2010, African countries imported 18 billion dollars’ worth of oil – more than the entire amount they received in foreign aid – while oil subsidies in Africa cost an estimated 50 billion dollars every year.
New financing models for renewable energy
According to Amin, renewable energy technologies are now the most economical solution for off-grid and mini-grid electrification in remote areas, as well as for grid extension in some cases of centralized grid supply.
He argued that rapid technological progress, combined with falling costs, a better understanding of financial risk and a growing appreciation of wider benefits mean that renewable energy would increasingly be the solution to Africa’s energy problem.
In this context, Africa could take on new financing models that “de-risk” investments in order to lower the cost of capital, which has historically been a major barrier to investment in renewable energy, and one such model would include encouragement for green bonds.
“Green bonds are the recent innovation for renewable energy investments,” said Amin. “Last year we reached about 14 billion dollars, this year there is an estimate of about 40 billion, and next year there is an estimate of about 100 billion dollars in green finance through green bonds. Why doesn’t Africa take advantage of those?” he asked.
During the conference in Lima, activist groups have been urging an end to dependence on fossil fuel- and nuclear-powered energy systems, calling for investment and policies geared toward building clean, sustainable, community-based energy solutions.
“We urgently need to decrease our energy consumption and push for a just transition to community-controlled renewable energy if we are to avoid devastating climate change,” said Susann Scherbarth, a climate justice and energy campaigner with Friends of the Earth Europe.
Godwin Ojo, Executive Director of Friends of the Earth Nigeria, told IPS that “we urgently need a transition to clean energy in developing countries and one of the best incentives is globally funded feed-in tariffs for renewable energy.”
He said policies that support feed-in tariffs and decentralized power sources should be embraced by both the most- and the least-developed nations.
Backed by a new discussion paper on a ‘global renewable energy support programme’ from the What Next Forum, activists called for decentralized energy systems – including small-scale wind, solar, biomass mini-grids communities that are not necessarily connected to a national electricity transmission grid.
Source: Oil Price.com
GBJ 10 (2014)
By Alistair Schorn
As South Africa’s capital city, the City of Tshwane has recognised and embraced its responsibility to play a leading role in the transition of the county’s major cities and metropolitan areas to low-carbon, climate- resilient and resource-efficient models of development. This is clearly demonstrated in the development of the City’s Green Economy Strategic Framework, and its alignment with the City of Tshwane Vision 2055.
As with any initiative at the level of local government this framework was developed in alignment with the national economic development context. In this regard, the South African government has for a number of years recognised the green economy as a significant catalyst for employment creation, and socially equitable and environmentally responsible economic development. More specifically, the South African Department of Environmental Affairs states that the green economy refers in particular to two interlinked developmental outcomes for the South African economy, namely:
- Growth in economic activity (leading investment, employment and competitiveness) in identified green industry sectors;
- An overall shift in economic activity towards cleaner industries and sectors that have a low environmental impact compared to their socio-economic impact.
In line with these imperatives, the government has implemented a number of policy measures which aim to promote a transition to a green economy. These include the National Strategy for Sustainable Development, the Industrial Policy Action Plan, the New Growth Path, the Green Economy Accord and most recently, the National Development Plan that was released in 2012.
In the context of these national policy measures, strategies and plans, the implementation of South Africa’s green economy transition has been to the level of a significant degree decentralised to provincial and local government level. As a result, the City of Tshwane has identified a requirement to develop a city-specific Green Economy Strategic Framework, which reinforces national policy and provincial policy in this area.
What is a green economy and how can we get there?
In developing the Green Economy Strategic Framework for Tshwane, the City’s government has adopted the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) definition of a green economy, namely “one that results in improved human well-being and social equity, while significantly reducing environmental risks and ecological scarcities”
From the City’s perspective, therefore, the essence of a green economy lies in the following:
- Improved human well-being;
- Improved social equity;
- Reduced environmental risks and ecological scarcities.
It is therefore imperative that a green economy transition can de-couple economic development from resource consumption and environmental impacts, and enable inclusive growth through a more equal distribution of wealth and access to ecological goods and services such as clean air and water.
It should also enable improved human health and well-being, through enhancing the quality and quantity of these goods and services, as well as the quantity and quality of public infrastructure and services such as transportation, education and civil services.
If implemented effectively, a green economy can offer a new economic path to sustainable development, in which the spheres of technology, economy, society and ecology are embedded in each other and are underpinned by systems of good governance.
Sustainable development and the green economy (adapted from the National Strategy for Sustainable Development).
This understanding of a green economy provides the broader context for the development of the City of Tshwane’s Strategic Framework.
The successful implementation of this Framework, and the resulting transition to a green economy, will require that the City makes best use of its inherent competitive advantages, to develop a highly appropriate, resource-efficient, low-carbon and inclusive programme.
The City of Tshwane
Tshwane is of course located in the north of Gauteng, and comprises over one-third of the province’s area. It has a population of 2, 92 million and a population density of 4 634 people per km2.
Tshwane exhibits a diversity of land uses, including residential (rural and urban), agricultural, natural open, industrial and commercial. Much of Tshwane is currently urbanised, although significant potential exists for agricultural production in less urbanised regions. Over the past several decades, Tshwane has experienced rapid economic growth and development, resulting in significant urban sprawl, which presents a growing challenge in terms of basic services, infrastructure and housing.
One of the objectives of the Strategic Framework is of new and existing projects and programmes to be included in the City of Tshwane’s Integrated Development Plan (IDP) in the next planning cycle. The IDP for 2011–2016 has made significant improvements in livelihoods by addressing service backlogs and poverty through improving the availability and universal accessibility of essential public services (such as housing, water, sanitation, education and health care). The next IDP will therefore need to continue with service delivery roll-out, while at the same time focusing on the development of integrated solutions that reduce resource consumption and the generation of pollution and waste, while opening up new opportunities for green jobs and green economic growth.
The Strategic Framework will help to inform the City of Tshwane’s medium to long-term green economy objectives. It also forms part of the Tshwane 2055 initiative, which is a long-term strategy for improving the quality of living across the metropolitan area, revitalising the city, boosting economic development and attracting investment. It aims to articulate the City of Tshwane’s vision, game-changing interventions, indicators and outcomes.
In this regard, Tshwane 2055 has the following six identified outcomes:
- A resilient and resource-efficient city;
- A growing economy that is inclusive, diversified and competitive;
- Quality infrastructure development that supports liveable communities;
- An equitable city that supports happiness, social cohesion, safety and healthy citizens;
- An African capital city that promotes excellence and innovative governance solutions;
- An activist citizenry that is engaging, aware of their rights and present themselves as partners in tackling societal challenges.
The Tshwane Green Economy Strategic Framework is aimed at addressing primarily the first of these objectives, namely the development of a resilient and resource-efficient city. It will also contribute to achievement of the second objective, particularly in the area of economic inclusivity.
The Tshwane Green Economy Strategic Framework
The development process for the Framework included extensive internal consultation with relevant City officials, and significant support and participation were received from local UNEP representatives. Based upon this process, the principal drivers of the green economy were identified as a response to the growing economic and environmental crises that demand a new green economic model for the following:
- Resource efficiency: the efficient use of natural resources to reduce the generation of waste and pollutants;
- Low-carbon development: the use of innovation and increased investment in low-carbon technologies and solutions; and
- Inclusive growth: the creation of green jobs and the greening of service delivery to ensure more equitable and inclusive growth with a focus on the poor.
It was decided that the focus areas or themes of the Strategic Framework should be action-based and aligned with existing green economy initiatives and strategies. These themes were accordingly finalised in March 2013, and were divided into two principal categories or clusters, namely mitigation and adaptation.Within each of these themes, the status quo and challenges were described to give context and perspective. Known challenges and barriers to developing the City’s green economy were used to formulate aspirations, objectives and appropriate actions for each theme.
These were incorporated into an initial draft of the Strategic Framework that was reviewed and finalised by the City of Tshwane’s Sustainability Office.
Thematic action areas
Under each of the mitigation and adaptation clusters, the Framework identifies the following specific thematic action areas, as follows:
1. Transitioning to a low-carbon city (mitigation)
- Pollution and waste management – reduction and effective management of waste streams, including solid waste, wastewater and air pollution;
- Integrated water resource management – coordinated development and management of water, land and related resources;
- Green buildings and built environment – the development of a green built environment in the City, including spatial planning and public service infrastructure, with due consideration of national initiatives in this area;
- Sustainable transport and improved mobility – improved efficiency and sustainability in transport systems and infrastructure, and the creation of an enabling environment for green transport initiatives;
- Sustainable energy – including initiatives, in line with various national policies and programmes in the field.
2. Building a resilient and resource-efficient city (adaptation)
- Maintenance and provision of ecosystem goods and services – protection and enhancement of ecosystem goods and services, with due consideration of ecological limits and rates of replenishment;
- Sustainable agriculture and food security – creation of sustainable food supply systems which maintain and enhance the ecological integrity of land and other natural resources;
- Sustainable communities (health and social development) – promotion of a vibrant citizenry and a healthy, skilled workforce that contributes to improved wellbeing and social cohesion.
For each of these themes, a set of overall aspirations, strategic objectives and appropriate actions were developed for the Framework.
Specific mitigation actions include the following: reducing emissions from buildings; improving mobility and providing low-carbon mass transport options; reducing the generation of waste and encouraging product re-use, recycling and material recovery; promoting integrated planning and land use; improving energy efficiency and developing renewable energy supply options; and encouraging the efficient use and management of water and other natural resources.
The adaptation actions include: main- streaming environmental priorities and carrying out biodiversity assessments to inform development plans; supporting and expanding government public works programmes to incorporate payment for an ecosystem services approach, enhancing the skills and knowledge in agro-ecology, enhancing local urban and peri-urban food production for increased food security; and providing services and facilities that enable a safe and healthy environment while enhancing opportunities for improved connectivity and social cohesion and human wellbeing.
A number of specific methods of implementation were identified to promote the establishment of a green economy in the City, including the following:
- Investing strategically in green innovation and technology;
- Defining a new economic base for a green economy; and
- Developing partnerships between government, business, labour and civil society.
In terms of these implementation methods, the Framework identifies the financial constraints under which the City (and in fact all municipalities) operate, as a potential inhibitor of transition to a green economy, and it acknowledges the necessity for effective public-private partnerships to overcome this obstacle.
Furthermore, the Framework refers to the possible use of municipal fiscal policy, in the form of both incentives and disincentives, as an effective method of catalysing the growth of a green economy in the city.
A final element of the Framework, included as an Appendix, outlines the City’s targets for various measures and initiatives for a green economy as derived from national and provincial targets in these areas.
These include areas such as the installation of solar water heaters, the creation of green jobs, public sector investment in green economy sectors such as renewable energy and sustainable transportation, energy efficiency targets, waste reduction targets and the implementation of appropriate sustainability standards such as those for green buildings.
The City of Tshwane’s transition to a green economy will require a fundamental change in the established economic system, from one based on increasing exploitation of natural resources to fulfil the growing demands for material consumption, to one that can ensure sustainable and equitable growth within the ecological limits of Tshwane and the region.
Achieving this shift will require effective integrated planning, robust policy signals, good governance and high levels of accountability on the part of the City’s management. It will also require investment in new skills, research in innovation and green technologies, and a new mindset for doing business.
The Green Economy Strategic Framework provides a means to achieve these objectives, by outlining the suite of strategies and actions that are required to facilitate the City’s transition to a green economy and a sustainable development path.
The Minister of Environmental Affairs Mrs Edna Molewa participated in the twentieth session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 20), under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Lima, Peru. The UNFCCC COP 20 began in Lima on 1 December and will conclude on 12 December 2014. The high level-segment opened today, 9 December 2014.
Three years after the Durban United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP17), where negotiations were underway on the next steps to be taken to ensure an effective global response to the global challenge of climate change, COP20 is critical for setting the stage for achieving a global agreement in Paris at the end of 2015. Under South Africa’s COP Presidency, COP 17 achieved the historic agreement on the Durban Platform and the initiation of negotiations on a new global legal instrument, applicable to all countries, to be adopted by 2015 and to come into effect in 2020.
The Minister recently stated, “We are preparing ourselves to ensure that the UN climate change conference in Paris in 2015 delivers an outcome that lives up to the groundbreaking Durban Platform outcome of COP 17 / CMP7. And in doing so, we continue to engage with the science from the 5th Assessment Report of the IPCC… all the while deliberating, planning, strategising and taking practical action.”
As we near the deadline set in the Durban Platform, this meeting is critical as we work towards concluding the negotiation of a new multilateral legal agreement in Paris next year.
South Africa’s priorities for Lima COP 20 are as follows:
Firstly, to reach agreement on the elements of the new legal agreement, that is inclusive, fair, effective and adequate to keep temperature increase well below 2°C.
Secondly, there must be recognition that adaptation should be at the heart of the climate regime with multi-lateralism critical to offering protection of those that are most vulnerable;
Thirdly, it will be critical for Parties to reach agreement on the minimum information to be presented with Parties’ Intended Nationally Determined Contributions, covering all key pillars of the negotiation, namely adaptation, mitigation, technology, finance and capacity building.
Fourthly, the Lima political agreement needs to elaborate on the legal form that the post -2020 regime should take; and
Finally, the Lima political agreement must confirm how developing countries’ contributions to the global effort to combat climate change will be financed, and whether the obligation to provide this support will be legally binding on developed countries.
The Minister goes to COP20 guided by South Africa’s National Climate Change Response Policy, which sets out the nation’s vision and framework for an effective response, and the long-term, just transition to a climate-resilient economy and society. SA’s policy objectives are to effectively manage the inevitable climate change impacts through interventions that build and sustain South Africa’s social, economic and environmental resilience and emergency response capacity; as well as to make a fair contribution to the global effort to stabilise greenhouse gas (GHG) concentrations within a timeframe that enables economic, social and environmental development to proceed in a sustainable manner.
South Africa’s approach is one of promoting sustainable development by prioritising climate change responses that have significant mitigation benefits, AND have significant economic growth, job creation and poverty alleviation benefits.
Some of our country’s achievements in the past few years since Durban include:
We have a National Climate Change Response Policy that charts the course for actions that are both developmental and transformational.
A set of Long Term Adaptation Scenarios (LTAS) are b eing developed, under plausible future climate conditions and development pathways.
We are also working hard on reducing our greenhouse gas emissions. Extensive work has been done, jointly with business and industry, to analyse the emission reduction potential in key economic sectors, and to understand the social and economic opportunities and impacts of reducing emissions. This work will lead to the establishment of desired emission reduction outcomes per sector, and carbon budgets for companies.
The National Green Economy Strategy provides the strategic directive to grow economic activity in the green industry sector, so as to attract investment, create jobs and improve competitiveness. It also provides the strategic direction for transitioning existing economic sectors towards cleaner, low-carbon industries with sustained socio-economic benefits and low environmental impact.
Source: African Environment
As far as I’m concerned, the prospect of a planet not wrecked by run-away climate chaos is enough of an incentive to have us move from our existing, dirty, fossil fuel driven economy to a greener, low-carbon alternative.
But if you’re not persuaded by such sentimental tree huggery and require cold, hard figures involving rands, cents and job creation statistics, read on.
Last month, a study released by the Imperial College London Business School showed that public policies which encourage innovation in businesses that use clean technologies – think electric cars and wind mills – lead to greater positive impacts on economic growth than the polluting industries they replace, because green tech innovations tend to result in more frequent knowledge ‘spillovers’ in which novel developments benefit not only the originator but many other companies as well.
Now, a comprehensive new review published by the UK Energy Research Centre puts the spotlight on the employment creation credentials of the low-carbon energy sector.
The authors point out that in the EU, green jobs already account for 1.7% of all paid employment. That’s about 3.4 million jobs – more than those provided by either pharmaceutical companies or car manufacturers.
Crucially, they set out to answer the question of whether governments should employ policies to support and subsidise the renewable energy and energy efficiency segments of their economies in order to create jobs. (Before you complain about the market-distorting effects of government subsidies, it’s well worth remembering that the global fossil fuel industry is massively subsidised by governments itself).
The findings are interesting:
– Available evidence suggests that in general, renewable energy projects and energy efficiency measures are more labour-intensive than generating electricity in coal- or gas-fired power plants. This is true both in terms to short-term jobs created during the construction phase and for jobs available for the entire lifetime of a project, although there are marked differences between the various green technologies, wind power being relatively less labour-intensive than energy efficiency and solar power, for instance.
– In the short-term, investing in energy efficiency and renewable energy capacity will create more jobs than making equivalent investments in new fossil fuel power station (longer term impacts are harder to predict).
Now if someone could just relay this information to Eskom and the SA government please! While you’re at it, ask them to add it to the mountain of other reasons why they should stop wasting our money on coal-fired electricity plants to the detriment of renewable alternatives.
The green economy isn’t all about high-tech innovations though. Something as old-fashioned and basic as the humble bicycle has plenty of low-carbon economic benefits to offer. Say what you will about fixie-riding hipsters, at least they’re actively contributing to making cycling cool.
Last year, the European Cyclists’ Federation (ECF) put some numbers on the economic benefits that cycling and the cycling industry provide for the EU (health benefits, easing traffic congestion, fuel savings, reduced carbon dioxide emissions, and reduced air and noise pollution). They came up with a staggering cumulative estimate of more than €200 billion (well over R3 trillion) per year!
Next week, the ECF will release a new study on jobs in the European cycling-related sector. Here’s a sneak preview of some of the findings:
– Cycling has a greater job creation potential and contributes more to local economies than other modes of transportation.
– There are already around 655 000 people working in the EU’s greater cycling industry (everything from manufacturing, selling and servicing bikes to bike infrastructure investments and bicycle tourism). That’s more than are employed by the European steel industry or have jobs in mining and quarrying.
– If cycling were to double its share as a mode of transportation in the EU, over 400 000 additional jobs could be created by 2020.
It seems increasingly obvious then, that greening the way we do business and run our industries doesn’t only make environmental sense, it’s good for the economy, too.