5 December 2011
New ways of producing goods, which will reduce both energy consumption and emissions from energy production, have to be found, South African President Jacob Zuma told the World Economic Forum Green Partnership Dialogue in Durban on Sunday.
This, according to Zuma, would require profound and far-reaching changes in economies, and would affect how business is done.
The potential benefits were huge, however, as transforming the means of production to make them more environmentally sustainable in the long term would open the door to new investment, production and employment prospects.
‘We must work on this together’
“It is not a job just for government or business or labour alone,” Zuma said. “It is something we must work on together.”
South Africa is the largest producer of electricity in sub-Saharan Africa, generating 90% of its electricity from coal. The country has committed to securing 4 000 megawatts of renewable energy for the national grid by 2016. This is more than the City of Durban uses in a year.
South Africa’s solar and wind energy industries have targeted the creation of at least 50 000 “green” jobs by 2020, with the government pledging its support for the installation of one-million solar water heating systems by 2014 to 2015.
This will also provide the basis for expanding local production of components and heating systems.
Business’ technological, managerial expertise needed
Zuma said that bringing in new sources of electricity required the government to regulate the national grid, and that it needed business to invest and bring its technological and managerial expertise to the table.
“Above all, we must make sure that poor communities do not end up footing the bill, whether through job losses or high prices,” Zuma said.
“We are encouraging more labour-intensive activities that can create employment opportunities on a mass scale.”
Zuma added that the country’s electricity utility, Eskom, and business would continue to work on technologies to further reduce emissions from coal-fired plants.