Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Government's CO2 mitigation strategy


With reference specifically to our mitigation strategy, Cabinet adopted the following approach:

  1. The Start Now strategic option as outlined in the LTMS will be further implemented. This is based, amongst others, on accelerated energy efficiency and conservation across all sectors, including industry, commerce, transport and residential, inter alia through more stringent building standards.
  2. We will invest in the Reach for the Goal strategic option by setting ambitious research and development targets focussing on carbon-friendly technologies, identifying new resources and affecting behavioral change.
  3. Furthermore, regulatory mechanisms as set out in the Scale Up strategic option will be combined with economic instruments such as taxes and incentives under the Use the Market strategic option, with a view to:
    • Setting ambitious and mandatory (as distinct from voluntary) targets for energy efficiency and in other sub-national sectors. In the next few months each sector will be required to do work to enable it to decide on actions and targets in relation to this overall framework.
    • Based on the electricity-crisis response, government’s energy efficiency policies and strategies will be continuously reviewed and amended to reflect more ambitious national targets aligned with the LTMS.
    • Increasing the price on carbon through an escalating CO2 tax, or an alternative market mechanism.
    • Diversifying the energy mix away from coal whilst shifting to cleaner coal, by for example introducing more stringent thermal efficiency and emissions standards for coal fired power stations.
    • Setting similar targets for electricity generated from both renewable and nuclear energy sources by the end of the next two decades.
    • Laying the basis for a net zero-carbon electricity sector in the long term.
    • Incentivising renewable energy through feed-in tariffs.
    • Exploring and developing carbon capture and storage (CCS) for coal fired power stations and all coal-to-liquid (CTL) plants, and not approving new coal fired power stations without carbon capture readiness.
    • Introducing industrial policy that favours sectors using less energy per unit of economic output and building domestic industries in these emerging sectors.
    • Setting ambitious and where appropriate mandatory national targets for the reduction of transport emissions, including through stringent and escalating fuel efficiency standards, facilitating passenger modal shifts towards public transport and the aggressive promotion of hybrids and electric vehicles.


Cabinet has mandated a clear path for the future. Milestones will include a national summit in February next year, the conclusion of international negotiations at the end of 2009 and a final domestic policy to be adopted by the end of 2010 after international negotiations have been completed.

The process will culminate in the introduction of a legislative, regulatory and fiscal package to give effect to the strategic direction and policy from now up to 2012.

Click here for the PowerPoint presentation of the Media Statement.

Enquiries to:
Ronel Bester Mobile: 083-242-7763 E-mail:

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Solar power from Saharan sun could provide Europe's electricity, says EU | Environment | The Guardian

Solar power from Saharan sun could provide Europe's electricity, says EU | Environment | The Guardian: "A tiny rectangle superimposed on the vast expanse of the Sahara captures the seductive appeal of the audacious plan to cut Europe's carbon emissions by harnessing the fierce power of the desert sun.

Dwarfed by any of the north African nations, it represents an area slightly smaller than Wales but scientists claimed yesterday it could one day generate enough solar energy to supply all of Europe with clean electricity."

Friday, July 18, 2008

The Blackouts Spread

With the rolling blackouts at the beginning of this year and the media coverage South Africans might be forgiven for thinking that Eskom was the only electricity provider in the world that has been having problems. But apparently the energy crisis is worldwide.

Falls Church News-Press - The Peak Oil Crisis: The Blackouts Spread:
Shortages, however, are not confined to small, poor states, but, in an increasing number of cases, are appearing in large, relatively well-off and active states on which the OECD world of North America, Europe and parts of Asia are very dependent. Several of the countries having energy problems are actually oil exporting states that, for one reason or another, are not able to turn their increasing oil wealth into smoothly functioning shortage-free economies. Unfortunately, several major countries appear to be on the path to an energy shortage-induced economic and perhaps political collapse within the foreseeable future which obviously will have serious consequences for us all.

Currently, the most serious situations appear to be in Pakistan and Bangladesh. Both are nations with populations in excess of 150 million people that are ensnared in devastating power shortages that have destroyed their export industries. Both are facing water and agricultural problems that threaten their food supplies. Liquid fuels are running short and reductions in exports threaten their ability to import oil and natural gas. It was recently revealed that the Saudis already are forgiving $6 billion of Pakistan's $12 billion annual oil import bill.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

African Church Leaders’ Statement on climate change and water

African Church Leaders’ Statement on climate change and water

We Church Leaders representing National Christian Councils and Churches from the Fellowship of Christian Councils and Churches in Southern Africa [FOCCISA] and the Fellowship of Christian Councils and Churches in the Great lakes and Horn of Africa [FECCLAHA] under the auspices of AACC met from 3rd-5th June 2008 to consult on the subject of climate change and water at the Archbishop Desmond Tutu Ecumenical Centre in Nairobi, Kenya.

1. Affirm the reality and urgency of climate change and the adverse negative impact it has on entire humanity and particularly on poor and vulnerable communities in Africa. The current climate crisis is primarily spiritual and ethical with serious political, economic and justice implications. As human beings we have failed to appreciate the intrinsic worth of ourselves, other humans, other species and future generations. We have failed to acknowledge the fact that the earth sustains life because of the harmonious balance of the elements and all the creatures within it.

Our pursuit of “happiness and high quality of life” need not endanger other peoples, nations, communities, species and future generations that are also entitled to survival and happiness. The earth has enough resources to satisfy everyone’s need, but not enough resources for anyone’s greed.

2. Believe that ecological sustenance can be assured only through the principle of being mindful of the welfare of others while we mind our own. That our survival is inextricably woven with that of others. And that in the long term, we cannot survive while others perish. (Do not wish for others that which you do not wish for yourself, nor promise that which you do not fulfil. Matthew 7:12).

3. Believe in line with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) principle of common but differentiated responsibilities, that the costs of climate change mitigation and adaptation must be borne based on historical and actual responsibility and the ability to pay. In other words, there is an obligation of the industrialised countries to pay their carbon debts but more urgently to stop the emission of greenhouse gases.

4. Recognize that climate change has primarily been accelerated by emissions of green house gases due to human activities. That these global emissions are not only historical but also actual current emissions by industrialised countries thus global warming. The negative consequences of which are felt largely in the global South. And that climate change affects the availability of domestic and agricultural water and food security.

5. Appreciate the role of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in responding to the global environmental crisis as it provides a common negotiation platform for all nations and offers access for participation of non-governmental actors.

6. Reason that the current environmental and development crisis cannot be overcome through voluntary action only. That legally binding commitments are critical for the different issues of mitigation, adaptation, finance, development of technology and afforestation. It is therefore our view that the next eighteen months preceding the UNFCCC climate conference in Copenhagen in December 2009 (COP 15) are crucial to improving and strengthening the existing mechanisms.

7. Recognize that the Kyoto Protocol as an important step towards ensuring that industrialised countries commit themselves to legally binding emission reductions to 1990 levels. However, its implementation and the political commitment of the industrialised nations is absent. Some countries, notably USA and New Zealand have not even ratified the protocol, while most of the other countries with mitigation commitments are lagging too far behind their reduction targets.

We therefore urge African governments to propose and support principles based on justice, equity and responsibility in the climate change debate. These will go along way to secure fair and just commitments for the post 2012 period.

Unless decisive action is taken immediately, climate chaos will lead to increased human suffering and social upheaval condemning millions of people to hunger, disease, misery and death. A third of the African population has already fallen prey to droughts, floods and resource-based conflicts resulting from global warming.

We urgently therefore:

A. call on Governments and industry in the industrialised countries, especially in the North, to:

  • Implement significant and immediate reduction measures of at least 80% on 1990 levels and at the same time secure the right of all people to reach a dignified level of human development.
  • Rapidly execute emission reductions that they accepted in the Kyoto Protocol and to adopt new, more effective and legally binding post 2012 emission reduction obligations.
  • Support adaptation strategies in the South through adequate financial and technological support as a way of owning up to their responsibility for the climate crisis.
  • Avail new mechanisms for channelling significant sums of financial, technological and other support, in addition to the commitment made (and mostly not fulfilled) by developed countries to provide 0.7% of their Gross Domestic Product for Official Development Assistance (ODA).
  • Promote and implement low carbon strategies for sustainable human development.
  • Compensate developing countries for the damage already done and the lost opportunities based on the polluter-pays-principle.

B. Observe that the contribution of African countries to the total global emissions is very low and call upon the African governments to:

  • Affirm political will to address climate change and to allocate adequate public resources to education for increased resilience and adaptation initiatives.
  • Recognize the role of the churches and other civil societies including other faith communities in order to adequately respond to and support local efforts to adapt to the adverse consequences of climate change – particularly at community levels.
  • Define appropriate policy frameworks to support the innovation, contextualisation and development of technologies for sustainable industrial development in their respective countries, giving priority to the promotion of indigenous inventions and innovations.

C. Appreciate the efforts of churches and faith-based organisations in advocating for the rights of the poor and vulnerable communities in the continent and challenge them to:

  • Recognise the reality of climate change and the urgency to create awareness, mobilise and promote their communities to engage in activities towards effective and sustainable adaptation to the crisis.
  • Stand in solidarity with communities that are currently suffering from the negative impacts of climate change and whose livelihoods have been compromised through, encouraging diversified eating habits, home grown long term agriculture & food security programs
  • Review curricula of theological institutions and develop in-service training for clergy and lay leaders to integrate the theme of climate change at all levels.
  • Engage faith communities in the North to demand binding commitments from their governments to pay their carbon debt,reduce emission of green house gases and support adaptation initiatives in the South.
  • Continue to influence the UNFCCC negotiation process through joint lobbying and advocacy activities using equity-based frameworks like the “Greenhouse Development Rights” and other human rights based approaches.
  • To collaborate with their partners in the North to establish eco-congregations that will also offer options for checking consumerism through behaviour change thus reduce carbon emissions.
  • Engage African governments to develop appropriate legislation and policy framework towards precaution, mitigation and adaptation against climate change

We, church leaders present in this consultation, hereby commit ourselves to work, engage and challenge our constituents, African governments, partners, governments of industrialised countries, the African Union and United nations and other stakeholders in ensuring that climate change and its adverse effects as already experienced or
projected is reversed.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Ecology - the moment of truth

Ecology: The moment of truth--an introduction

By John Bellamy Foster, Brett Clark and Richard York

The July-August 2008 (Volume 60, Number 3) edition of the influential US
socialist journal Monthly Review is a special issue on ``Ecology: The
Moment of Truth", edited by Brett Clark, John Bellamy Foster and Richard
York. The issue is devoted to the planetary environmental emergency. It
is essential reading for all socialists and environmentalists. With
permission from Monthly Review, Links International Journal of Socialist
Renewal here posts the introduction by the editors, and urges Links'
readers to purchase the issue and/or subscribe to Monthly Review

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Conflicts fuelled by climate change causing new refugee crisis, warns UN | Environment | The Guardian

Conflicts fuelled by climate change causing new refugee crisis, warns UN | Environment | The Guardian: "Climate change is fuelling conflicts around the world and helping to drive the number of people forced out of their homes to new highs, the head of the UN's refugee agency said yesterday. After a few years of improvement, thanks mainly to large-scale resettlement in Afghanistan, the numbers of civilians uprooted by conflict is again rising. During 2007 the total jumped to 37.4 million, an increase of more than 3 million, according to statistics published today.

The figures, described as 'unprecedented' by the UN, do not include people escaping natural disasters or poverty - only those fleeing conflict and persecution. But Antonio Guterres, the UN high commissioner for refugees, said that climate change could also uproot people by provoking conflicts over increasingly scarce resources, such as water."

Friday, July 11, 2008

Canadian obsession with fossil fuels

What is it with Canadians?

Western Canada has one of the most abundant sources of hydro-electricity in the world, but first they want to move their aluminium smelting operations to South Africa (a plan that seems to have been aborted by Eskom's failure to plan for more generating capacity) and now their municipalities are wanting to replace clean trolley buses with fossil-fuel guzzling diesels.

Real Estate Weekly:
After years of neglect and operational sabotage, city bean counters and Edmonton Transit administrators have finally succeeded in their obsessive quest to pull the plug on the city’s 70-year-old trolleybus system. Last month, they finally got a majority on council that was gullible enough to swallow the misinformation that trolleybuses are a technology of the past, not a way to a cleaner and greener future.

While municipalities around the world are expanding their electrically-powered public transit fleets, Edmonton city council voted seven-to-six to begin the process of dismantling the city’s trolleybus network by 2010. Instead, they’ll abandon proven trolley technology and buy 47 diesel hybrid buses that have an uncertain lifespan, burn more fossil fuels and spew more emissions at street level.

South African bus operators are not much better -- cities like Pretoria, Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town lost their trolley buses about 30 years ago. Of course they relied on coal-fired power stations, so they still used fossil fuels, though indirectly. But at least the coal was mined locally, and not imported. Cities in western Canada have no such excuse.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Secret report: biofuel caused food crisis | Environment | The Guardian

Secret report: biofuel caused food crisis | Environment | The Guardian: "Biofuels have forced global food prices up by 75% - far more than previously estimated - according to a confidential World Bank report obtained by the Guardian.

The damning unpublished assessment is based on the most detailed analysis of the crisis so far, carried out by an internationally-respected economist at global financial body.

The figure emphatically contradicts the US government's claims that plant-derived fuels contribute less than 3% to food-price rises. It will add to pressure on governments in Washington and across Europe, which have turned to plant-derived fuels to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases and reduce their dependence on imported oil."
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