SONA 2022: THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE NOWHERE TO BE SEEN
14 February 2022 at 9:25 am
We rounded up some key observations from activists in the Life After Coal Campaign after President Cyril Ramaposa’s much awaited State of the National Address on 10 February 2022. This was a critical address for Ramaphosa and the ANC, as it outlines government’s response to multiple crises – the ongoing COVID pandemic, unemployment, poverty and inequality, the energy path, and the climate crisis.
“We were pleased to see that the COVID Social Relief Grant will be extended. While R350 is a meaningful start, we recognise that a more substantive amount will be needed to break the cycle of poverty. It must be implemented on an ongoing basis as a step in the direction of a caring economy and to ensure that “No one must be left behind”. Such a grant should not exclude caregivers from getting Covid relief and other grants”
Bobby Peek, groundWork
“Touching on the just transition is a welcome stance, but we feel it did not get enough emphasis. The Just Transition process deals with complex and interlinked issues. This requires dialogue, open debate and democratic decision making about the future. The information at the basis of all plans and decisions should be transparent. The people most affected, particularly on the coalfields, must from the beginning be part of information gathering, analysis, and decision making. The South African constitution gives us the rights that can make the Just Transition possible.”
Makoma Lekalakala, Director, Earthlife Africa
“The State of the Nation by president was short on details, fails to address challenges faced by climate change, and pushes for mining, oil and gas, and these will push the country into deep climate crisis”
Samson Mokoena, Vaal Environmental Justice Alliance
“Public money as well as private capital continue to sustain the fossil fuel-based energy system that has led to the climate crisis. This is unjust, unsustainable, and – in the case of public finance – misaligned with global and national commitments. Instead, the focus should be on financing the transition.”
“As expected, business was offered many reforms to boost the economic climate, However, the current economic paradigm will not dig South Africa out of its economic crisis. A new economic system is necessary and the Just Transition provides a space in which to deal with this. A wellbeing economy is based on the idea that economic decision making should start by asking what the needs of people are, and how to fulfil them, rather than to have an economy that serves profit. In such an economy, it will be possible to do socially necessary work and reward it, rather than leave it to the owners of capital to decide what work should and should not be done. We would like to see economic reforms framed in this way.”
Dr Victor Munnik, Strategic Advisor, Life After Coal Campaign
“A revised IRP would also reveal that nuclear and gas are not least-cost options for power generation. Actually, gas prices have risen in the last couple of years, and therefore, the inputs for IRP 2019 modelling are now outdated.”
Bongiwe Matsoha, Policy Analyst, Earthlife Africa
“And hydrogen for whom?”
Bobby Peek, Director, groundWork
“We would have liked to see the President announce in the strongest terms that South Africa is embarking on a large-scale, accelerated renewable energy build. We are already far behind the renewable energy trajectory that is in the now outdated IRP 2019, and need to build in the order of 5GW of new renewable energy per year to replace polluting and unreliable old coal plants that have to be decommissioned.
Replacing this coal generated capacity with renewable energy is advantageous for so many reasons. This includes:
- Cost: electricity from renewable energy is now much cheaper than electricity from coal (and from gas);
- Equality, economic development and jobs: employment (measured in job years) can be expected to increase by an additional 40 % in the next 10 years if renewables are increased in IRP. Moreover, publicly and socially owned renewables can pro
- vide ownership and livelihood opportunities for those who have borne the brunt of South Africa’s over-reliance on coal;
- Air quality: Pollution from Eskom’s coal-fired power stations is killing people every day;
- Energy security: Expanding our renewable energy fleet not only brings greater electricity capacity, but greater flexibility to the grid – essential for avoiding the loadshedding that has plagued our electricity system and cost our economy billions in damage.
- Climate change: To meet our international climate target and reduce our carbon emissions under the Paris Climate Agreement, we need to rapidly shift from coal to renewable energy.
- Just transition, competitive advantage and trade: A rapid shift also allows us to have a managed, just transition, and to retain our competitiveness in global trade.
Melissa Fourie, Executive Director, Centre for Environmental Rights
We would have liked to see a commitment to promulgating a robust and effective Climate Change Act this year. This all important and long awaited legislation is urgently needed to empower and effect strong and clear mechanisms to facilitate the country’s mitigation and adaptation responses. In addition, climate action requires the effective delegation of responsibilities and empowerment across sectors and tiers of government which are tasked with evaluating, formulating and implementing climate change response mechanisms.”
Brandon Abdinor, Climate Advocacy Lawyer, Centre for Environmental Rights