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South Africa’s energy security in the context of climate change mitigation

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S. Kiratu
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The energy sector and the provision of electricity for South Africa’s population and industries already comprise a complex issue without including the influence of climate change to the equation. This paper presents the tensions between the country’s energy and climate policies and their implications for the region. The author notes that responses to climate change have been informed by the country’s commitments to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Nonetheless, the demand for electricity supply will not seemingly decline in the near future, which poses challenges for South Africa’s energy security and development, both of which are mainly tied to coal. Recommendations can be summarised as follows:

government and business need to stop viewing the transition to a low carbon economy as a threat and not an opportunity
the transition to a low carbon economy in South Africa should be pursued concurrently, and not sequentially, with its other fossil fuel based initiatives, which requires integrated energy planning
to develop an integrated vision for energy security, the government must address institutional issues, diversification, and the merits and demerits of centralised as opposed to distributed networks
at the domestic level, institutions need to be re-thought to bring the right political levers and players together to conduct whole-system thinking rather than the present fragmented approach
the government must also take into account the opportunities available in neighbouring countries

The document deems that the transition to a low carbon society will provide a platform for the development of a clean tech power generation industry and the creation of green jobs in South Africa.