South Africa – 350Africa.org welcomes reports that Eskom is actively pursuing climate finance to speed up its transition to renewable energy as part of its Just Energy Transaction (JET). The funding will also help Eskom deal with its unsustainable debt load.
As indicated in the analysis we wrote when this idea was first discussed, 350Africa.org is in support of such efforts provided they ensure a rapid and just transition to a renewable energy future, in line with the demands put forward by the Climate Justice Coalition’s campaign for a Green New Eskom.
350Africa.org’s campaigner, Alex Lenferna said,
“Eskom is starting to move in the right direction. However, they need to be much more ambitious and transition more rapidly if they are to act in line with the urgency of the climate crisis, and unlock the massive benefits of a rapid and just transition to renewable energy.”
One of our main concerns about the transaction is its proposed timeline for moving towards renewable energy. Eskom’s goal to get to net zero by 2050 is too slow. The power sector emits the largest amount of carbon pollution and needs to be the engine of decarbonising the rest of the economy. As this report by Climate Analytics makes clear, for South Africa to do its fair share of the Paris Climate Agreement target of keeping warming to 1.5°C, then the energy sector must phase out coal by 2033 and be fully decarbonised by 2035-2040.
350Africa has developed this policy on a just transition and our position is clear – a just transition must ensure greater ownership of, involvement in, production of and benefit from energy is not by South African people, communities and businesses. We must also ensure that workers and communities dependent on coal for their livelihoods are not left behind.
It is important that should this funding package proceed, that there is further involvement from civil society and affected workers and communities. There has to be more inclusive dialogue that includes, but is not limited to, input from mining affected communities, trade unions (especially those directly impacted), youth, and environmental and climate justice organisations.
As Eskom pursues funding for renewables from development finance institutions (DFIs), it is also important that our DFIs also commit to divesting from fossil fuel investments. One of our worries is that Eskom will use this funding to invest in more fossil fuels, especially more gas.
On 18 May 2021, the International Energy Agency (IEA) released a vital report showing the steps the world needs to take to transform its energy in line with the United Nations Paris Climate Agreement’s goal of keeping warming from rising above 1.5°C. The report showed that “for emerging economies heavily dependent on coal power generation… the bulk of their transition will be straight from coal to clean energy” not coal to gas. The reality is that gas, once considered a bridge fuel, is a bridge to nowhere.
It is also important to us that whatever funding deals are secured are for the benefit of South Africa. We must work to ensure that we do not find ourselves locked into contracts with multilateral banks which have conditions that have devastating effects for communities, such as austerity and privatisation.
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