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Activists scrutinise Eskom renewables decision

Former US Vice President, Al Gore, and environmental activist Kumi Naidoo, argue that South African power utility, Eskom, is contributing to the disastrous climate effects that is already having devastating effects on the country.

Nobel Laureate, Gore, cited Eskom’s monopoly as a major contributor to South Africa’s continued reliance on coal and tied this to the disastrous effects of climate change across the country – namely continued droughts, heatwaves and massive flood events.

Speaking at a conference this week hosted by hosted by the Climate Reality Project (CRP), Gore also took the opportunity to warn that South Africa’s water demand will outstrip supply by 17% as soon as 2030.

Former Executive Director Greenpeace International, Naidoo, said that Eskom is setting ceilings on renewable energy and that its motivations for refusing to embrace renewable energy are being driven by private interest.

“There are certain people in the business community who are making truckloads of money from the current energy system and that have huge influence over our political leadership,” he said.

Renewables are the way forward

According to Climate Reality, Naidoo went on to question Eskom’s determination to continue adding coal capacity in spite of the fact that these projects are invariably over budget and late, while “renewable energy projects have shown that they can deliver on budget, on time and can create decent jobs.”

Believing that the separation between environmental activism and the fight against poverty is artificial, Naidoo says that Africans need to approach climate change as a social justice issue.

“It is the poor that actually suffer the most when there’s an environmental disaster and it’s the poor who stand to benefit the most from renewable energy – which means jobs, better health and access to reliable electricity,” Naidoo explained.

Naidoo also called on African governments to collaborate on creative solutions to the threats posed by climate change, suggesting that large-scale renewable energy facilities should be built near borders of less populated nations so as to share the costs – and benefits – of building energy infrastructure.

He even suggested that “if Europe can have a Euro, why can’t Africa have an Afro?”

Ashley Theron
Ashley Theron-Ord is based in Cape Town, South Africa at Clarion Events-Africa. She is the Senior Content Producer across media brands including ESI Africa, Smart Energy International, Power Engineering International and Mining Review Africa.