5 December 2011
The “green” economy must form part of South Africa’s development and job creation agenda, President Jacob Zuma said at the launch of the COP 17 flagship solar power plant in Hazelmere, KwaZulu-Natal on Sunday.
Zuma said the African continent was abundant with renewable energy sources that needed to be harnessed in building an inclusive and sustainable economy.
“This renewable energy project also confirms our view that we cannot separate climate change responses from our goals of pursuing development and poverty eradication,” he said. “Pursuing the green economy must be linked to our overall agenda of pursuing employment creating growth, and inclusive growth that improves the lives of our people.”
The President called on experts attending the UN Climate Change Conference (COP 17), currently underway in Durban, to help South Africa explore the possibility of scaling up its renewable energy option in its energy mix.
In the country’s Integrated Resource Plan (IRP2010) – a 20-year projection on electricity supply and demand – about 42% of electricity generated in South Africa is required to come from renewable resources.
“If we do nothing, climate change will leave us with uninhabitable wastelands and socio-economic disasters,” Zuma said.
‘Urgent response needed’
Zuma said the world had gathered in Durban because of the realisation that an urgent response to climate change, which also affects South Africa, had to be reached.
“We have spoken a great deal about using cleaner sources of energy. Today we reaffirm that commitment and determination to move towards a low-carbon economy.”
He said the COP 17 flagship solar plant had to improve the lives of the people of Hazelmere and its surroundings, by creating job opportunities among other things.
The plant is a result of a partnership, incorportating a skills development component, between Soitec and the Ethekwini Municipality.