climate change
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It’s no longer possible to talk about power and energy without alluding to climate change in some way. This tendency to link the two is, in my view, necessary.

Originally published in the ESI Africa weekly newsletter on 2019/05/29 – subscribe today

News headlines show that our planet’s weather-related disasters are increasing – floods, drought, hurricanes, fires, and ecosystem extinction events – which are putting our food and water supplies at risk along with numerous threats to our way of life.

It’s undeniable that energy stakeholders must act now to prevent further harm.

Fortunately, it’s not all doom and gloom as the powers that be are listening and implementing policies with climate change in mind.

In one of the world’s biggest carbon emitters South Africa, one such law, the Carbon Tax, is under scrutiny as opposing parties feel it will do more harm than good. Notably, no country has yet been able to pass such law with any success.

Coming into effect on 1 June this year, the law will penalise companies whose primary source of emissions is from energy generation.

As such, the SAEEC pointed out that the “obvious conclusion [of the law] is that using less energy will be essential to reducing the greenhouse gas emissions and the consequent steep tax for heavy emitters”.

Will the likely scenario be a more significant push to increase solar and wind in the energy mix from both utility-scale power plants and distributed energy resources?

Another notable event underway in South Africa is taking place tomorrow at Standard Bank’s annual general meeting.

The bank’s shareholders will be voting on a climate risk-related resolution, which, if passed, will require the corporate bank to provide shareholders with more information about its fossil fuel lending and risk exposure.

It doesn’t seem to be a dramatic requirement but does mean that the bank will need to adopt and publicly disclose a policy on lending to coal-fired power projects and coal mining operations.

What do you believe the outcome of this vote will be?

On the global agenda, nuclear in the energy mix is facing an uncertain future as the IEA has noted a steep decline in its use that could result in increased carbon emissions from developed countries.  

According to the IEA, we could face an additional four billion tonnes of CO2 emissions if existing nuclear plants are decommissioned and new projects not initiated.

Since nuclear energy’s bad reputation has grown – mainly due to construction costs and nuclear waste risks – it’s going to take considerable innovation to overcome the issues.

Whether nuclear power will rise again, or your feelings on the validity of passing a carbon tax act, and how Standard Bank’s shareholder resolution vote swings are all contributing to better equip us to change the narrative for both energy and carbon emissions.