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Sustainability Week 2018 Newsflash: Robot to assuage labour concerns

All South African industrial stakeholders – companies, professionals, workers, and unions – with an interest in the future of human labour under Industry 4.0, otherwise known as the Fourth Industrial Revolution, are invited to meet Pepper the robot at Sustainability Week 2018.

Pepper is South Africa’s first client-friendly humanoid robot, recently unveiled at Nedbank’s digital-branch, the NZone, at the Gautrain station in Sandton. Pepper is set to become Nedbank’s newest client service champion in the pursuit of enriching the client experience.

Now Pepper will be joining other top speakers at the Industry 4.0 Workshop on 6 June at the CSIR ICC in Tshwane.

One of the biggest concerns of developing countries is that the conjunction of Artificial Intelligence and automation poses a threat to workers’ jobs. Quite simply, the fear is that workers will be automated out of existence.

By way of reassurance, Pepper quotes a recent report by the UN:

“First off, artificial intelligence, 3D printers and other innovations are generally designed to excel at a very specific set of tasks.” To master an entire occupations takes considerable.

“Secondly, new technologies not only destroy, but also create jobs.” Technological innovation has always enhanced productivity and created new products and markets, generating new jobs.

“Thirdly, just because it is technically feasible to substitute an entire profession with computers, does not mean it will happen. A variety of economic, legal, regulatory and socio-political factors will prevent many occupations from disappearing.”

A recent study found that by 2016, only one out of 270 occupations listed in the A 1950 US census found out of 270 occupations, automation had eliminated only one – elevator operator.

Meet Pepper at Sustainability Week 2018.

Register today at www.sustainabilityweek.co.za

Watch this video for a sneak preview:

Nedbank releases 2016 Sustainability Review

Nedbank’s 2016 Sustainability Review highlights how it contributes to the sustainable development agenda of the South Africa, with a focus on products and services, partnerships and operations.

Says Brigitte Burnett, head of sustainability for Nedbank Group: “In our experience, our sustainability effectiveness is maximised through an approach that combines a commitment to sustainable products and services, managing our own impact, and partnering with like-minded organisations and initiatives.

“The information contained in our 2016 Sustainability Review demonstrates the value that is unlocked through this approach. While we certainly aren’t there yet, it is a journey and this report shows good progress in how we have delivered positive societal impacts for our country and our clients.”

Transforming SA

At a products and services level, Burnett points to the more than R64bn worth of empowerment financing Nedbank has provided since 2009 as evidence of the bank’s dedication to transforming SA industries and businesses.

In some cases, these beneficiaries have started and grown their own businesses, while others have used it for transformational infrastructure projects – both helping to grow the economy and create jobs.

The bank also established a Green Savings Bond, which allows retail and institutional investors to not only grow their money, but also contribute to sustainable development projects like renewable energy.

Since its inception, more than R17bn has been invested into the product.

“As part of our Fair Share 2030 strategic enabler, Nedbank has also placed itself at the forefront of efforts to address the growing student accommodation crisis in South Africa,” says Burnett. “The R2.3bn we have invested in support of this vital housing sector has resulted in more than 5,000 more student beds being made available.”

Response to #FeesMustFall

The 2016 Sustainability Review offers evidence of Nedbank’s commitment to positive education outcomes and how the bank has responded to the Fees Must Fall campaign.

Burnett points specifically to Nedbank’s partnership with the Nedbank Mogale Empowerment Trust, which invested R100m in the MTN Zakhele Futhi scheme – the dividends received will be used to benefit black students across the country as well as black supplier development.

The review also discloses detail on investments aimed at socioeconomic upliftment and support. For example, the bank’s main CSI arm, the Nedbank Foundation, has invested R141m into a range of social projects across its key focus areas of education, health and social development.

The bank also provided more than R100m in drought support over the past financial year, including working capital for its agriculture clients and donations towards boreholes, animal feed and bottled water.

Reducing its carbon footprint

Closer to home, Nedbank remains committed to managing the sustainability impacts of its own operations and staff. Since 2010, Nedbank has been carbon neutral and, in 2016, it further reduced its overall direct carbon footprint by more than 6%.

Across the group, the bank remains focused on good water stewardship and continued its water usage minimisation trend by reducing water consumption across its operations by a further 1.1% in 2016.

The full 2016 Nedbank Sustainability Review is available for download at www.nedbank.co.za. It is a supplementary report to the Nedbank Group Integrated Report.

Source: bizcommunity

Water on our minds – Stellenbosch citizens get active

Water is on everyone’s minds, at last. It should have happened a long time ago, but now that we are facing ongoing water shortages, droughts and water quality crises, South Africa is finally paying attention to what conservation and water health mean.

Foreseeing this three decades ago, the WWF-SA’s Freshwater Programme has focused on a number of catchment-wide water conservation and community engagement projects in South Africa, several of which the WWF Nedbank Green Trusted has supported since its inception 26 years ago.

One of these projects is the Stellenbosch River Collaborative (SRC), which, in partnership with the WWF Nedbank Green Trust and the conservation organisations – Living Lands and the Wildlands Conservation Trust – is working on the restoration of the Eerste River catchment.

The polluted waters in the Eerste River, Stellenbosch’s main river, and two other rivers that flow into it – the Plankenbrug and Veldwachters – pose a serious health risk to the greater Stellenbosch community. This is also jeopardising the viability of the area’s key economic drivers, notably the wine and fruit producers in the Eerste River catchment.

The pollution and microbial quality of the river water (levels of human excrement and disease-causing pathogens such as E. coli) is not fit for drinking or irrigation. It fails to meet the export standards set by the European Union for fresh produce and the World Health Organisation and Department of Water and Sanitation guidelines for safe irrigation.

In response to the many negative consequences of their polluted catchment concerned citizens and stakeholders from every sector of the Stellenbosch community came together and formed the SRC. Launched in November 2013, its aim is to restore health to the Eerste River catchment.

The initiator and coordinator of the SRC is researcher Charon Marais, who is doing her PhD on sustainability and transformational governance through the University of Stellenbosch Business School, and is part of the transdisciplinary TsamaHUB doctorate programme of the Sustainability Institute.

The Stellenbosch University Water Institute (SUWI) has adopted the SRC as an important official in SUWI projects. Stellenbosch’s Municipality is an active partner in this initiative.

‘It is all about what we call the ‘river connect’ – about connecting neighbours and communities upstream and downstream of the Eerste River to restore health to the river for every member of the greater Stellenbosch community,’ Marais explains. ‘From people living in Kayamandi and Enkanini informal settlements to big businesses such as Spier and Distell, the health and sustainability of the river affects one and all.’

The Stellenbosch Municipality is responsible for the health of the Eerste River and its feeder rivers. However, heavy sewage leaks from the Stellenbosch Municipality Waste Water Treatment Plant and pollution from the Plankenbrug industrial area and the informal settlements are continuous sources of river contamination, and have been for the past 20 years.

The true gravity of the situation was brought to the attention of the broader public through national media coverage when the Wynland Water Users Association, representing farmers, individual users, conservation authorities, and the Department of Water Affairs, took legal action against the municipality for non-compliance.

The SRC has played an instrumental role in bridging the divide and creating a space where the municipality can come on board and assume its role in a number of river restoration initiatives.

One of these initiatives is the Enkanini water and sanitation pilot programme launched in March 2016, in partnership with Living Lands, Isidima Design and Development, and a group of young women and men from the Enkanini informal settlement who named their project ‘The Enkanini Water Hustlers’ with the slogan ‘Changing the Flow’.

Christine Colvin, Senior Manager of WWF’s Freshwater Programme, who oversees all of WWF-SA’s water projects, explains that Enkanini does not have any formalised services. All forms of pollution and effluent from the community end up in the Plankenbrug River.

‘To tackle this with the community members, we are drawing on learning gained from the WWF Nedbank Green Trust Msunduzi Green Corridor (MGC) – a pilot project that is promoting partnership action between communities and the public and private sector, to address the rapid decline of the Duzi River,’ Colvin explains.

‘Now in its second year, the project is addressing the severe sewerage contamination and solid-waste problem in the Duzi, in partnership with the Msunduzi Municipality and the communities living on the banks of the Duzi River and Midmar Dam,’ Colvin explains.

The Duzi River frequently registers contamination counts of well over 10 000 year-round counts, sometimes above the 100 000s, when anything over an E. coli or sewerage contamination count of 1 000 is a health risk for anyone making direct contact with the water.

The MCG is managed by the Duzi-Umngeni Conservation Trust (DUCT), which has established Eco Clubs at over 40 schools along the Duzi and a highly successful Enviro-Champs water and pollution-monitoring programme, led by members of the Mphophomeni Township adjoining Midmar Dam.

‘It is about people making the river their own, and about understanding their individual and collective responsibility to champion clean water, to report sewage leakages, to stop dumping refuse in the river and to discourage others from doing so,’ explains DUCT’s Richard Clacey, a local economic development and environmental specialist who focuses on the links between river health, community health and development issues.

The Enviro-Champs from the MCG visited their counterparts in Stellenbosch – the Water Hustlers – to share knowledge, grow water awareness and help the Water Hustlers think through how they want to manage their project. Six community members from Enkanini are currently leading the Water Hustlers’ pilot programme.

They explained that they chose the name ‘Hustlers’ because that is how they live; if you don’t hustle, nothing happens. They monitor the water quality; report leakages, burst pipes and pollution issues in Enkanini; and visit households to raise awareness about water.

‘Their commitment to this project and the operational support we are now receiving from the Stellenbosch Municipality is most encouraging,’ says Colvin. One example of this support is the painting and numbering of the manholes in and around Enkanini. This enhances municipal responsiveness when manholes overflowing with pollutants are reported.

‘Previously, there was no way of identifying the specific manholes and in an informal settlement the municipal officials often battled to locate them. Now that they are painted and numbered, it has helped to fast-track this process.’

Colvin adds that the Stellenbosch Municipality is also working on bringing services to over

1 000 households in Enkanini, including clean water and decent sanitation.

The Enkanini Water Hustlers and the SRC are receiving considerable support from Spier and Distell, who are also situated on the banks of the Plankenbrug River, downstream from Enkanini.

All members of the greater Stellenbosch community recognise the principle of ‘my neighbour’s water is my water’ and are working to achieve better quality water throughout the catchment.

‘This model could be used in many South African catchments, towns, informal areas and townships,’ adds Colvin. ‘Water pollution and failing wastewater treatment plants is a ubiquitous problem in South African and a key threat to lives and livelihoods. We need to find a way to upscale these projects for water stewardship throughout the country – it would serve all the people of South Africa significantly.’

By Heather Dugmore

Nedbank, DBSA collaborate to fund R120m Affordable Green Housing

In a ground-breaking move and first for South Africa, Nedbank and Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA) agreed to collaborate on funding sustainable green housing in the affordable housing market.

On Monday, representatives of Nedbank Corporate and Investment Banking (NCIB) Affordable Housing Development Finance division and the Green Fund which is managed by DBSA on behalf of the National Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA), concluded an agreement to jointly fund the development of approximately 400 affordable green housing units in the Western Cape and Gauteng Provinces.

This will be achieved through creating an earmarked R120 million concessionary loan funding pool administered by Nedbank.

The agreement between Nedbank and DBSA’s Green Fund will enable the development of sustainable green housing in the affordable housing market. The agreement also includes the monitoring of energy and water consumption in green affordable housing units to verify the actual savings.

“Green affordable housing combines social and environmental sustainability to promote access of lower middle income individuals to better quality housing units with lower running costs. This captures the spirit of Nedbank’s Fair Share 2030 initiative, recognising that to be a thriving bank, we need to operate in a thriving society,” says Manie Annandale, Head of Affordable Housing Development Finance at NCIB.

The 400 families across the Gauteng and Western Cape Provinces will not be the only beneficiaries of this collaboration. Local industries will be stimulated through the increased demand for green housing technologies such as insulating materials, efficient lighting, heat pumps and solar water heaters, thus leading to the potential of creating new jobs.

“Funding initiatives such as this partnership are meant to support South Africa’s efforts to move towards a greener economy which is a priority focus area for the DBSA’s Green Fund.  A partnership with Nedbank’s Affordable Housing Unit makes it possible to fund innovative affordable housing projects which contribute to achieving the objectives of the National Development Plan,” says Mohale Rakgate, General Manager for Project Preparation Development unit at the DBSA.

Whilst environmental sustainability might seem like a luxury in the affordable housing market, lower lifecycle costs make green homes particularly attractive to this segment. A typical household in this market earns up to R20 000 per month, purchasing a home for under R620 000 or occupying a rental unit costing up to R6 500.

“Utility bills amount to 10-20% of rental or bond instalment, pushing a household’s accommodation-related expenditure up to 40-50% gross income, and placing pressure on affordability. Above-inflation increases in electricity tariffs will erode affordability further in years to come. Meaningful savings in electricity and water bills can reduce the likelihood of default on rentals or bond payments, and help to improve access to housing for new market entrants,’’ notes Annandale.

In South Africa, the new benchmark for environmentally sustainable housing is the EDGE (Excellence in Design for Greater Efficiencies) tool. This tool was developed by the International Finance Corporation (IFC) for application in developing economies, and recently adopted locally by the Green Building Council of South Africa (GBCSA) as the basis for a new green housing certification system.

Compliance requires savings of at least 20% in each of three categories namely; energy, water and building material embodied energy. It is anticipated that a family of four living in a new two bedroom unit compliant with EDGE and SANS 10400-XA[1] could save as much as R350-450 per month compared to an older conventional unit with no energy efficiency features.

Once savings are demonstrated, it is anticipated that property developers will be able to recover the green construction premium from residents by sharing in the operational savings, either through marginally higher selling prices or rentals. In the case of housing sales, mortgage lenders will play a critical enabling role by taking into account the likelihood of lower operational costs in their assessment of home loan applications relating to units in green developments.

Fair Share 2030 is Nedbank Group’s business response to a series of economic, social and environmental challenges that threaten society’s long-term success. It represents an annual flow of money to be lent in a way that contributes to meeting eight major long-term goals for the future.

The goals relate to provision of affordable energy services while containing carbon emissions; sustainable clean water and sanitation; improved employment rates; savings and investments that support national development objectives; and good, cost-effective health and educational outcomes. These goals address socioeconomic and environmental issues, and their interplay.

Source: sacommercialpropnews


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Nedbank Property Finance leads green building movement to sponsor 2015 Green Building Convention

Furthering its commitment to greener, more sustainable South African buildings, Property Finance at Nedbank Corporate and Investment Banking (NCIB), will again be the principal sponsor of the Green Building Convention hosted by the Green Building Council of South Africa (GBCSA).

The annual Green Building Convention is leading the sustainability journey in the South African property industry by bringing the country’s significant property players together around inspirational thought and action for our built environment.

This important event has built a formidable reputation for helping move South Africa towards more innovation and future-orientated thinking to “Inspire Better Buildings”.

Property Finance at NCIB has long been a strong supporter of the convention and the efforts of the GBCSA. It has sponsored the convention since its inception eight years ago. This strong partnership is helping to create healthier and more productive environments for people and communities.

Widely recognised as South Africa’s ‘green bank’, Nedbank has achieved an impressive sustainability journey of its own, which includes an array of notable firsts in the industry.

Its head office on 135 Rivonia Road was awarded South Africa’s first ever Green Star SA rating issued by the GBCSA in 2009. Today, Nedbank owns and occupies five Green Star SA rated buildings including the Menlyn Maine Nedbank Falcon building, which has just become the first building in the country to achieve a 4-Star Office v1 Design, 5-Star Office v1 As Built, as well as a 4-Star EBP Pilot Green Star SA ratings.

Brian Wilkinson, CEO of the GBCSA says Nedbank’s continued support and sponsorship of the Green Building Convention further reinforces its green leadership.

“The support and primary sponsorship by Nedbank over the past eight years has elevated the stature of the Green Building Convention to a platform for serious change,” notes Wilkinson.

He adds: “Nedbank has also taken its commitment beyond this and plays a leading role in mitigating climate change by walking the talk and being extensively involved in financing and occupying a number of Green Star SA rated buildings.”

In addition to a solid commitment to the Green Building Convention and the wider green building movement, Nedbank’s sustainability journey has broadened even further through its Fair Share 2030 strategy. This ensures that a carefully calculated flow of money is allocated each year to invest in future-proofing the environment and society.

Managing Executive of Nedbank Property Finance at NCIB, Robin Lockhart-Ross explains: “Nedbank remains a truly green bank and continues to play its part in mitigating the risks of climate change, while also tapping into the opportunities it brings.

Our sponsorship of the 2015 Green Building Convention reflects our belief that green building inspires innovation for a better future. To that end, we are extremely proud of the number of firsts we’ve achieved along our own journey in supporting green initiatives, particularly at our Nedbank Menlyn Maine office building, which epitomises our ability to walk the green talk.”

The GBCSA’s annual Green Building Convention will be held from 2 to 6 November at the Cape Town International Convention Centre. This year’s programme promises a host of top-notch speakers and thought-provoking topics as well as outstanding networking opportunities with key decision-makers and industry professionals.

Source: eprop


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AFRICA IN NEED OF SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURAL PRODUCTION

Africa is in dire need of transforming its agricultural sector. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, agricultural production needs to increase 60% by 2050 to keep up with the expected demand for food*. These pressing issues will be discussed at the thought-provoking and highly anticipated Food Security Seminar taking place on 24 June 2015 during Sustainability Week at the CSIR International Convention Centre in Pretoria.

Political instability, limited access to resources and funding, poverty, skills shortages and a changing climate are just some of the challenging factors impacting food security in Africa. The lack of interest in farming among young rural people is also a risk to consider when it comes to Africa’s agricultural landscape. Thought leaders and experts in the field of food security, agriculture and fisheries will share the latest thinking and best practice in the changing face of this industry during Sustainability Week, which will take place on 24 June 2015 at the CSIR.

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Four interactive sessions will contribute to the formulation of consensus on the best course for African countries in the food security, agriculture and fisheries sectors. The first session will focus on climate change mitigation and adaption, where Inge Kotze, Senior Manager for Sustainable Agriculture at the World Wide Fund for Nature – South Africa’s (WWF-SA) will define the issues of climate change and agriculture. The session will close with a panel discussion addressing key actions to mitigate primary causes of emissions and how to adapt to inevitable changes in the sector.

“There is an urgent need for the world’s farmers to be empowered to produce more food per unit of land, water and agrochemicals, while confronting widespread physical resource scarcity, a changing climate, and rapidly increasing input costs,” says Kotze.

Biodiversity and productivity in land use will be the theme for the second session where Jan Coetzee, Project Extension Officer at The South African Breweries (SAB) will enlighten attendees with a case study on better barley, better beer. This session will ultimately address the big question of whether intensive farming work can co-exist sustainably with the local biodiversity to ensure conservation and the ongoing supply of ecological services.

During the household food security session, freelance science writer Leonie Joubert will shed light on what food security really means. Paul Barker from Here We Grow Again will speak about the direct impact food gardens have on food security. The panel discussion will round off this session by framing the required policy and infrastructure foundations to enable broad-based urban farming.

The final compelling session will address rural poverty by stimulating the rural economy. Speakers will explore how to convert subsistence farmers into successful commercial farmers to extract the economic potential of land. The session will also delve into Afrocentric labour intensive approaches to improve productivity and uplift rural communities.

“A company such as BASF can play a defining role in addressing the challenges facing our planet, including those of energy and food resources, as well as urban living,” says Joan-Maria Garcia-Girona, Vice-President and Managing Director of BASF South Africa and Sub-Sahara.  “In 2050, the world’s population will reach nine billion with 70% of the people living in cities. Resources are already scarce and we have only reached almost seven billion people. To feed nine billion people in 2050, we will need twice as much food as today. Innovation in agriculture is vital to address the gap between food demand and supply. We at BASF have a 150 year legacy of providing farmers with innovative solutions to protect crops and improve sustainable agricultural production.”

The Food Security Seminar, sponsored by Nedbank and BASF forms part of the larger Sustainability Week, organised by alive2green, which runs from 23 to 28 June 2015. Associate sponsors of the Food Security Seminar include: Participate Technologies, Massmart and Backsberg Estate Cellars.

Source: spice4life


Book your seat to attend the Food Security Seminar at Sustainability Week in June


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South Africa’s transition to renewable energy

There is an urgent need to reduce fossil fuel dependency, reduce our carbon footprint and diversify
South Africa is on its way to becoming a renewable energy leader with billions being invested in creating clean and efficient energy. A recent study revealed that renewable energy including wind and solar benefited South Africa by as much as R5.3 billion in 2014.

A zero carbon scenario, grid autonomy and wheeling will be some of the fascinating talking points for energy industry experts who gather at the Sustainable Energy Seminar. This two day conference takes place on 24 and 25

Book your seat now to avoid disappointment!
Book your seat now to avoid disappointment!

June 2015 during the annual alive2green Sustainability Week at the CSIR International Convention Centre in Pretoria.

The process of adding electricity to the grid in one place and taking it out at another, commonly known as wheeling, has been dubbed a potential catalyst for South Africa’s transition to renewable energy – could this approach open the flood gates? As energy producers gain direct access to end users by wheeling their clean energy through the Eskom grid, the market begins to open up, allowing market forces to push efficiencies up and prices down.

The possibilities opening up for gas generation, both at the utility and on site scale and the prospect of reducing national Green House Gas emissions is beginning to look highly possible, if not probable. Strategies to achieve grid autonomy through efficiency and on site generation will be discussed at this year’s Sustainable Energy Seminar, a not-to-be-missed event, attracting the country’s leading experts in sustainable energy.

“There is an urgent need to reduce fossil fuel dependency, reduce our carbon footprint and diversify the energy mix and supply. Renewable energy is an attractive solution to many problems, the most important of these being security of supply, because resources are abundant and sustainable with the advantage of relatively quick implementation times, creation of work opportunities and a lower long-term impact on the environment,” says Dr Karen Surridge-Talbot, Centre Manager for the Renewable Energy Centre of Research and Development (RECORD) at the South African National Energy Development Institute (SANEDI). Surridge-Talbot will share insights from SANEDI’s flagship projects at the Seminar.

South Africa has one of the best solar regimes in the world and the question is how best to harness this renewable energy resource. Dr Chris Haw, Director of Aurora Power Group and the co-founder of the South African Photovoltaic Industry Association will discuss solar energy for commercial energy users with helpful case studies from his experience at SOLA Future Energy.

Valuable insights about redox flow batteries will be shared by Mulilo project engineer, Tim Crombie and Etienne Gerber, technical head at Mitochondria Energy Company (Pty) Ltd will discuss hydrogen fuel cells. Dr Tobias Bischof-Niemz from the CSIR will speak about the council’s integrated energy initiative and opportunities for renewables in South Africa.

The Sustainable Energy Seminar will include riveting discussions on renewable energy generation potential versus the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme (REIPPP) programme, wheeling, natural gas as an alternative energy source in South Africa, autonomy from Eskom – going off the grid and sustainable energy at city scale. Each session in the Sustainable Energy Seminar will begin with an expert panel of 20 minute presentations, followed by a question and answer session with input from the audience.

“We have a crucial role to play in enabling the transition from a carbon-intensive economy to more efficient low-carbon alternatives. The reduction of electricity consumption and increased rollout of renewable energy alternatives is a critical aspect of this transition,” says Dr Marco Lotz, Sustainability Carbon Specialist of Nedbank Group.

The Sustainable Energy Seminar, sponsored by Nedbank, SANEDI, UNIDO, BASF, Massbuild and Participate Technologies forms part of the larger Sustainability Week, organised by alive2green, which runs from 23 to 28 June 2015. Affiliated partners of the Sustainable Energy Seminar include: PIESA, SESSA, SAEE, REEEP, TAPPSA, SAAEA and NBI.

Sustainability Week is hosted by the City of Tshwane which has a vision to become a low carbon, resource efficient and climate resilient city by 2055. Executive Mayor of Tshwane Councillor Kgosientso Ramogkopa said, “Sustainability Week is a vital gathering for experts and leaders alike to champion urban sustainability for future generations. Energy efficiency is at the heart of this challenge – it cannot be overlooked.”

For more information on Sustainability Week, visit www.sustainabilityweek.co.za.

* http://www.saee.org.za/news_item.aspx?Id=775

Source: wecanchange


 

Book your seat for the Sustainable Energy Seminar taking place at Sustainability Week on 24-25 June 2015


 

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SA must divest from coal and oil

Banks are funding the fossil fuel industry, and profits continue to be harvested at the expense of lives and the planet, writes Nicole King.

Johannesburg – Last year was the hottest on record, it has been confirmed, and we risk runaway climate change, so it’s time for a Global Day of Divestment action.

Load shedding. Coal and oil price volatility. Greenhouse gas emissions. Climate change. Devastating floods in Malawi. New mining licenses under consideration. Your bank is potentially funding them.

On Global Divestment Day, millions of people across the world pulled hard on one of the threads that connects all of these pieces together, drawing the fossil fuel industry and the banks and institutions that fund it into the spotlight.

Friday the 13th might well have been unlucky for those who would prefer that business proceeds as usual and that profits continue being harvested at the expense of people and the planet.

The scientific health check for the Earth is dire. Last year was the hottest year since records began in 1880, with average combined temperatures across sea and land rising to 0.77º Celsius above the 20th century average. Nine of the 10 warmest years have been experienced since 2000. As a result, the frequency and severity of flooding and droughts are increasing and sea levels are beginning to rise.

We are shattering other records too: burning record amounts of coal and oil, investing record amounts of capital in fossil fuels and producing record levels of the greenhouse gas emissions that cause global temperatures to rise. Burning fossil fuels is the number one driver of climate change and globally. At least 80 percent of all known reserves need to stay in the ground if average temperatures are to be kept to a 2º Celsius future rise, a target that is unlikely to be met without radical change.

We have to act now. That is why people of conscience are using their collective power as bank account holders, students and academics, religious leaders and members of faith-based communities to get banks to stop future investments and public institutions to divest from coal and oil. The global divestment movement includes 181 individuals and institutions – representing more than $50 billion (about R583bn) in assets – that have pledged to divest from fossil fuels.

In South Africa, all of the banks fund fossil fuels, so people have been getting behind the Fossil Free Africa campaign to call for their banks to change direction, starting with Nedbank. The “green bank” could become the industry leader by disclosing its investments as a first step toward ultimately committing to stopping funding future fossil fuel projects.

In the fight for climate justice, the human cost of rising temperatures is proving too high. The recent flooding in Malawi and Mozambique claimed hundreds of lives and left thousands more people homeless and facing food shortages and hunger.

At the same time, water scarcity across Africa is increasing, including in South Africa. Northern Kenya is experiencing its worst drought in 60 years. Too often it is those who have done the least to cause climate change who are paying the ultimate price, but everyone of us will soon feel the impact.

In Springs, for generations people have been living with the impacts of mining, first from coal then gold. Communities in Kwa-Thema and other locations now face four new open-cast coal mines, some of which will border residential areas. There is scepticism about the promises of jobs and fear about the health risks associated with polluted water and air.

Then there is the coastline. In November, President Jacob Zuma announced Operation Phakisa, the government’s plan to fast-track economic development through oil and gas exploration off the coast, including a potential 3.5km-deep oil well off KwaZulu-Natal’s coast. ExxonMobil has applied for exploration rights which include plans for seismic tests in the Indian Ocean in the highly volatile Agulhas Current, bringing with it a potential threat to marine life from Richards Bay to the Eastern Cape.

So why, with the risk to people and the environment, do we seem to be falling deeper into this addiction to fossil fuels? The impact of volatile oil prices is changing the energy dynamics globally and some, like climate campaigner Naomi Klein, see this as a once-in-a-generation opportunity to make major global changes to energy policy.

These could include a moratorium on drilling in the Arctic and on countrywide fracking following the example set by countries like Scotland. Prices for a barrel of oil are at 50 percent of their mid-2014 levels, suddenly making extreme energy projects like fracking far less economically viable. Some projects face the potential of becoming risky “stranded assets” for banks and investors.

In South Africa, however, growing domestic demand for energy from coal means that many new coal mines are likely to be unaffected by oil price shocks.

There is also interest in the potential for oil, so new mining licences for coal and exploration licenses for offshore oil drilling are being considered by government.

The country has plenty of low-grade and highly polluting “cheap” coal, one of the key reasons for Eskom building the coal-fired power stations at Medupi and Kusile.

What government, labour and civil society do seem to agree on is that we must undertake a just transition away from fossil fuels to a clean energy future powered in large part by renewable energy

A clean energy future powering a low carbon development path is possible. What is needed is a step change in ambition and political will to scale up the renewable energy revolution.

Nuclear is not an option. A R1 trillion deal could bankrupt the country, the environmental risks are too high and the 10-16-year build time would mean breaching the upper limit of our agreed carbon dioxide targets as emissions grow.

Renewables can deliver thousands of megawatts more quickly than any other option and are the only solution to connect finally the approximately 1.5 million people in rural communities who would otherwise stay off the grid. South Africa is among the top 10 countries globally when it comes to renewable generation capacity, but according to Eskom this accounts for only about 500 megawatts out of a capacity of about 44 000MW. This renewables figure is planned to rise to 3 725MW by 2030, accounting for no more than 8 to 10 percent of total generation capacity.

Back the renewable energy sector and the benefits will multiply. Technology solutions will improve the efficiency and reduce the cost of solar and wind turbine units. Advances in electricity storage will help unlock the biggest win, to extend access to electricity potentially through community-owned local generation facilities that move us away from massive central production and costly grid infrastructure. With scale, job creation will follow.

This kind of just transition will not happen overnight, but with the lights going out, people are no longer prepared to sit and wait for government and businesses to act. For too long, global leaders have failed us by protecting the fossil fuel industry and putting short-term economic and political goals before our long-term survival.

The global fossil fuel industry and the banks financing it can no longer neglect their responsibilities.

In South Africa that goes for Nedbank, Standard Bank and Absa/Barclays, among others who continue to pump billions of rands into projects across the continent.

South Africa stands at a crossroads.

Your bank, pension fund, university, church, mosque, synagogue and temple could be funding the burning of more fossil fuels, the destruction of more land and livelihoods, and an increase in water scarcity because it uses huge amounts of water to dig out, clean and burn coal. Worst of all, we risk perpetuating the environmental crimes that will see people pay with their health yet still have no electricity to show for it just as their parents and grandparents before them.

The alternative is to demand divestment and fight for a vision and ambition that will sustain communities and connect millions more to clean electricity.

That is why, on Global Divestment Day, we will be standing in solidarity with the millions of people fighting the consequences of our changing climate.

Fossil fuels are history, renewables are the near future.

Source: IOL


 

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Bursary Programmes 2015

Nedbank

Nedbank strives to be Africa’s most admired bank. That’s why we are always looking to appoint the kind of people who can Make Things Happen. Through the Nedbank Bursary Fund, bursaries are made available to help academically able students meet the costs associated with studying at higher-education institutions.

The bursary covers the cost of fulltime tuition, registration, examination and compulsory charges, prescribed textbooks, university residence accommodation and meals.

Eligibility criteria include South African citizenship, Nedbank transformation targets, academic achievement (an average pass mark of at least 65% and meeting all registration criteria of a South African public university or university of technology), a financial-means test, and whether the proposed intended degree addresses an identified scarce skill at Nedbank.

Bursary applications to fund the next academic year will be accepted from 1 February to 30 April annually.

If you’re thinking of studying for a degree at a university but do not have the financial means, the Nedbank Bursary Fund is your opportunity towards attaining a better future. Learn more


 

Aurecon

At Aurecon, we know we are only as strong as our people. And we believe that our business’ future relies on the education and skills of tomorrow’s leaders. So we invest in various bursary programmes, to help develop and support passionate, driven and innovative individuals.

Aurecon bursaries are awarded to deserving students for studies at various tertiary institutions in fields specifically related to the company’s activities. Students from approved universities which offer programmes that lead to professional careers in engineering are considered, with bursaries available for students studying towards a Bsc or Bend in the fields of Civil, Mechanical or Electrical Engineering.

We fund up to R80,000.00 (subject to change) per annum to every bursar to support them in their studies. We also provide practical training applicable to the qualification, as required by their educational institution. Learn more


 

Old Mutual

Old Mutual is the largest and most well-established financial services provider in Southern Africa. Our proud heritage and prominent position in the industry is reflected in our operational strength and performance (across all our business interests), our robust balance sheet, powerful financial flexibility (with access to international capital markets) and our diversity of business. Read more about Old Mutual .

Well-trained, qualified accountants contribute significantly to the success of Old Mutual and South Africa. That’s why we offer bursaries to the best young financial minds, to people who are passionate about pursuing a career in Chartered Accounting and making a real difference!

Old Mutual Accountancy Bursaries cover:

  • The full costs of tuition at University of Cape Town (UCT).
  • Residence fees and one annual return flight home for students who are not studying in their hometown.
  • Vacation work.
  • The better the quality of your degree the more incentives you will be offered.
  • Book and general allowance.

Learn more


Youth and the Green Economy


 

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