April 18, 2023

350Africa.org calls for social ownership of renewable energy for a just transition in South Africa

On Friday, 14 April, the Presidential Climate Commission (PCC) presented its recommendations on South Africa’s long-term electricity planning and the Just Energy Transition Investment Plan (JET-IP) during a National Colloquium attended by government, labour and civil society stakeholders, including representatives for 350Africa.org.

We welcome the PCC’s recommendation to support green industrial development, economic diversification, and localisation of crucial transition value chains. Notably, green industrial development will require significant public investment and radical industrial policy measures which can harness the job-creating, poverty-alleviating potential of our renewable energy transition and deliver a transformative, just energy transition.

The PCC’s recommendations have agreeably highlighted the need to develop the local renewable energy industry in terms of extraction, production, and manufacturing in addition to supporting and investing in skills development of at-risk workers, young people, women and people in rural areas who are currently economically excluded. In line with our Green New Eskom Campaign, we are also advocating for a shift toward social ownership models which give communities a real say in the transition and make them the primary beneficiaries of energy production.

We acknowledge the PCC’s commitment to building support for the just transition and ensuring the capacity of workers and communities to participate in decision-making processes that will directly impact them. Greater public participation and consultation will enhance the just transition process. Community activists at the colloquium also agree that there should be “Nothing about us without us!”

Ferron Pedro, Senior South African Campaigner at 350Africa.org says,
We must ensure that the just transition to renewable energy benefits the poor and working class. We need to combat the capture of the transition by private and multinational interests who seek to profit from the renewable energy transition. Building a socially-owned energy sector which includes workers and communities will need public funding. We want to see the government commit to robust green industrialisation policies that include funding skills development and investment in the creation of local jobs and support of local renewable energy industries. The presentations at the Colloquium were encouraging in their focus on localisation, jobs and skills, the need for planning at national and sub-national levels and the recognition of the scale of change needed. While the Presidential Climate Commission is wary of the transition moving too fast, the intensity and frequency of climate change impacts is why we can no longer delay. 




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