30 November 2011
South Africa is taking advantage of the UN Climate Change Conference currently under way in Durban to demonstrate various “green” economy initiatives that form part of the country’s new growth strategy.
Officials have launched what has been referred to as the Green Economy Accord, with Economic Development Minister Ebrahim Patel telling reporters in Durban on Tuesday that the agreement sought to create more than 300 000 jobs over the next decade.
Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe was among the first government leaders at COP 17 to sign a pledge on the green economy in support of the initiative.
Global green economy market
Predictions are that should South Africa, a leading emitter of carbon dioxide on the African continent, be able to capture 2% of the estimated global green economy market in the next five years, the country could create up to 400 000 jobs in energy, manufacturing, agriculture, mining and other services.
One of the commitments in the pact, which has received the backing of the private sector and labour unions, is to install one-million solar water heating systems across South Africa over the next three years.
The South African Climate Change Response Expo running alongside COP 17 is showcasing the country’s progress on solar water heating technology, among other things. One of the stands even allows members of the public to make pledges to financially support access to solar heating systems by poor households.
Creating jobs in the green economy
Responding to journalists’ questions on Tuesday, Patel insisted that South Africa was not being ambitious in its targets, citing countries like China who have made great strides in the green economy sector.
“We are convinced that with support and focus, our goals are achievable,” Patel said. “Because of its innovations and the decision they have made, China today has created more than one-million jobs in the green economy … so it can be done.”
COP 17 was an opportunity for South Africa to share experience and to learn from the rest of the world on successful examples of using new technologies, Patel added.
He then referred reporters to details of the accord, with the government planning to procure more than 3 725 megawatts of renewable energy for the national grid by 2016 – more than the annual energy used by the entire City of Cape Town.
Locally produced solar heaters
Patel said an agreement had been reached with the insurance industry to ensure that it promoted locally produced solar water heaters to replace the 200 000 geysers damaged every year.
“So for us, that is an important step because a lot of geysers get damaged or burst every year, so what we have agreed on with the industry is to replace those with locally manufactured solar geysers.”
All parties, including business and government, will further promote the manufacturing and distribution of clean cooking stoves and heaters for the local and continental market.
The Industrial Development Corporation has already committed to provide R25-billion over the next five years for various initiatives linked to the country’s green economy strategy.