The climate crisis continues to worsen. Since the 1C breach in 2015, climate extremes such as floods, droughts, cyclones, and heatwaves are climate realities and felt acutely in South Africa since it is warming at twice the global average.1 The sixth report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) shows a continual rise in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Globally, despite the lower rates of economic growth in the decade of 2010–2019, GHG emissions were higher than in any decade before it.2 South Africa has had the highest GHG emissions on the continent and it is warming at twice the global average. Additionally, under President Ramaphosa’s leadership, South Africa has continued and intensified carbon “lock-ins”, with the coal industry reportedly leading in revenue generation in SA’s mining industry, contributing 21.4 percent (R130.57 billion) of total mining revenue (R608.99 billion) in 2020, yet more coal mines are being granted licenses and brought into operation, in the face of intensified carbon emissions and climate shocks.1
1 CJCM STRATEGIC PERSPECTIVES Accelerate the Deep Just Transition Now! Document 2, Presented and discussed at CJCM Strategic dialogue held in Johannesburg and online, 30 September – 1 October 2022, updated November 2022, pp 34-46.
2 IPCC, 2022: Summary for Policymakers [H.-O. Pörtner, D.C. Roberts, E.S. Poloczanska, K. Mintenbeck, M. Tignor, A. Alegría, M. Craig, S. Langsdorf, S. Löschke, V. Möller, A. Okem (eds.)]. In: Climate Change 2022: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability. Contribution of Working Group II to the Sixth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [H.-O. Pörtner, D.C. Roberts, M. Tignor, E.S. Poloczanska, K. Mintenbeck, A. Alegría, M. Craig, S. Langsdorf, S. Löschke, V. Möller, A. Okem, B. Rama (eds.)]. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK and New York, NY, USA, pp. 3-33, doi:10.1017/9781009325844.001.
The Cabinet of the South African government adopted the Presidential Climate Commission’s (PCC) Just Transition Framework on 2 September 2022. Subsequently, South Africa has accepted an $8.5bn (R128bn) concessional climate finance deal from the European Union, Germany, France, and The United Kingdom. The conditions of this “loan” have come under heavy scrutiny.
This deal, wrapped into the Just Energy Transition Investment Plan (JET IP), is said to be inadequate itself to address the claimed $99bn required by South Africa to transform its energy intensive economy, heavily reliant on the burning of coal, to meet the 2030 targets for GHG emissions. Moreover, South Africa has separately secured a further $497m (±R9bn) in funding from the World Bank ($439,5m), Canadian Clean Energy and Forest Climate Facility ($47,5m), and a $10-million grant from the Energy Sector Management Assistance Program to repurpose the decommissioned Komati Power Station. Eskom itself is carrying a debt burden of about R400bn
and continues to lead in carbon emission on the continent, despite the highest levels of loadshedding ever experienced in the country in September 2022.
Such finance is conditional. Apart from an energy transition, such conditions set South Africa on a particular macroeconomic path: a neoliberal one where the free market via the private sector may dominate the energy transition and use this desperately needed development as a site for profit and accumulation.
The PCC along with the World Bank launched the World Bank’s Country Climate and Development Report on 1 November 2022 which highlights the need for a “triple transition”: low-carbon, climate resilient, and just. But government and the World Bank always have a different understanding of “just” to ours. This continues to be a fight for real justice.
As the 27th Conference of the Parties (COP), held this month in Sharm El-Shaik in Egypt, has shown global powers have not collectively met their targets and there is a slow-burning urgency of political will while the planet continues to experience climate shocks.
Where will South Africa land in combating climate change, given its current neoliberal economic policies?
How will South Africa deal with the need of providing renewable and sustainable energy to a growing populous and carbon-intense economy?
What is the role of the workers’ movement in the Just Transition?
How can carbon jobs be transferred confidently to renewable energy jobs in a country with extremely high unemployment, poverty, and inequality?
Will the Just Transition be truly just?
Date: 24 November 2022
Mode: Hybrid (in-person and webinar)
Venue: Holiday Inn Johannesburg Sunnyside Park (Princess of Wales Terrace, JHB, 2041)
Time: 09h00–14h00 (08h30 Zoom join)
Zoom link: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/83828443053?pwd=SjQ1ekxjRndpaDNHdm5TTVAvamRBUT09 Meeting ID: 838 2844 3053; Passcode: 589300
09h00-09h05: Introduction of Rosa Luxemburg and SAFTU Political School programme: Matthew Grant, Research and Policy Co-ordinator, SAFTU
09h05-09h20: Introduction to the event:
Nontembeko Luzipo, Deputy General Secretary, SAFTU & Fredson Guilengue, Senior Programme Manager, Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung (RLS)
Panel 1: Background to the Energy Crisis and a Just Transition
Facilitated by Matthew Grant, Research and Policy Co-ordinator, SAFTU
09h20-09h40: Sandra van Niekerk, Climate Change Project Coordinator, Public Services International (PSI): History of Eskom
09h40–10h00: Brian Kamanzi, Energy policy researcher: South Africa’s Energy Framework
10h00–10h20: Jaco Oelefsen, Tax Justice Programme Officer, Alternative Information and Development Centre (AIDC): Energy marketisation and the need for a public pathway.
10h20–10h40: Question & Answer Session
~10h40–11h00: (20 min) Tea Break~
Panel 2: A Local and Global Perspective on the Energy Crisis
Facilitated by Trevor Shaku, Spokesperson, SAFTU
11h00–11h20: Basani Baloyi, Senior Researcher: Climate, Energy and Infrastructure Programme Lead, Institute for Economic Justice (IEJ): The Just Energy Transition and financing.
11h20–12h00: Mametlwe Sebei, President, General Industries Workers Union of South Africa (GIWUSA): Perspectives and experiences on the energy crisis.
12h00–12h20: Question & Answer Session
12h20–13h00: Ruth Ntlokotse, SAFTU President: Closing Remarks and Thanks