South Africa could save billions and climate by switching to renewables
Johannesburg, 12 October 2009 – Aggressive investment in renewable power generation and energy efficiency could provide three quarters of South Africa’s electricity by 2050, slashing over 200 million tons of CO2 emissions annually, the equivalent of 10 coal-fired power stations, and protecting the climate. According to a new study launched by Greenpeace in Johannesburg today, such a move could also lower the country’s electricity bill by US$ 46 billion.
The report, ‘Energy [R]evolution: A Sustainable South Africa Energy Outlook’, produced by the European Renewable Energy Council (EREC) and Greenpeace, provides a practical blueprint for rapidly cutting energy-related CO2 emissions in order to help ensure that greenhouse gas emissions peak and then fall by 2015, something that climate scientists agree is necessary in order to avoid dangerous climate change.
“Unlike other energy scenarios that promote energy futures at the cost of the climate, our Energy [R]evolution scenario shows how to save money and maintain economic development without fuelling catastrophic climate change. All we need to kick start this plan is bold energy policy from world leaders,” said Sven Teske, Greenpeace International’s Senior Energy Expert and co-author of the report.
“A global switch from coal to renewable electricity generation will not just avoid 10 billion tons of CO2 emissions, but will create 2.7 million more jobs by 2030 than if we continue business as usual. Global leaders can tackle the twin crises of global economic recession and climate change head-on by investing in renewable energy,” Teske said. “For each job lost in the coal industry the Energy [R]evolution creates three new jobs in the renewable power industry. We can choose green jobs and growth, or unemployment with ecological and social collapse.”
Investing in renewable energy technologies is a ‘win-win-win’ scenario: a win for energy security, a win for the economy and a win for the climate. While ‘business as usual’ energy scenarios like those from the International Energy Agency and the South African Long Term Mitigation Scenarios (LTMS) come at the cost of the climate and the economy, the Energy [R]evolution makes a clear case for ‘business as unusual’, demonstrating that the global market for renewable energy could grow at double digit rates until 2050, and overtake the size of today’s fossil fuel industry.
“South African per capita emissions are higher than those of China and India and exceed the global average. These countries are already taking advantage of the enormous investment opportunities presented by renewable energy sources,” said Brad Smith, Greenpeace Africa Programme Director. “South Africa should follow their example and focus on the expansion of its renewable energy industry.”
The Energy [R]evolution is key to creating new sustainable jobs and avoiding dangerous climate change. Strict efficiency standards make sound economic sense and dramatically reduce rising energy demand, avoiding rolling blackouts and the need for large polluting power plants. With renewable energy growing five-fold, on top of these efficiency gains, we can still cut the average carbon emissions per person by 75% by 2050 while providing for economic growth,” he added.
The report also highlights the short time window for making the key decisions in energy infrastructure. In order to achieve a greenhouse gas emission peak by 2015 and a fast reduction afterwards, governments, investment institutions and companies must act swiftly, and a strengthened UN climate deal must be agreed to at Copenhagen.
As part of a Copenhagen agreement Greenpeace is calling for:
- Global emissions to peak by 2015 and decline rapidly thereafter reaching as close to zero as possible by mid-century.
- Developed countries, as a group, to reduce emissions by at least 40% by 2020 (compared to 1990 levels). At least three quarters of these reductions must be achieved domestically.
- Developing countries to reduce their projected emissions growth by 15-30% by 2020, with support from industrialised countries.
- The establishment of a funding mechanism to stop deforestation and associated emissions in all developing countries by 2020.
For more information contact:
Sven Teske, Greenpeace International renewable energy campaign, + 31 62129 68 94
Brad Smith, Greenpeace Africa, + 27 71 688 0947
Fiona Musana, Greenpeace Africa, +27 79 512 9381
Christine Lins, Secretary General of EREC, +32 478 962 191