Foreign envoy in SA this week to discuss transition from coal-fired energy

A DELEGATION including envoys from the US and the European Union are in South Africa to discuss the possible reduction in the country’s thermal coal use, said BusinessLive.

“There is quite a lot of opportunity in South Africa’s energy transition,” John Wade-Smith, head of climate and energy at the British high commission told BusinessLive.

“We want to better understand how we can support that in a manner that is consistent with what South Africa wants to achieve,” he said.

The delegation’s visit is ahead of the United Nations’ Climate Change Conference  (COP26) in Glasgow due to take place from October 31 to November 12.

According to a report by Bloomberg News this month, one option is to fund the switch to renewable energy by accessing as much as $2bn that the US, France, the UK and Germany pledged at June’s G-7 meeting to help phase out coal globally.

South Africa’s use of coal has made it the world’s 12th biggest emitter of greenhouses gases, ahead of the UK which has an economy eight times its size. Eskom alone accounts for more than 40% of South Africa’s emissions.

However, energy transition is a politically charged debate in South Africa. It is also complicated by Eskom’s limited capacity. It debt burden make it a complex environment in which to strike a deal, said BusinessLive.

The lead ministry from the South African side is environment, forestry & fisheries. The department said the visit would “… assess opportunities for enhanced co-operation around a just energy transition … The developed economies have a responsibility to fund the just transition to a low-carbon economy and climate-resilient society”.

Eskom has proposed its own modest energy transition, which will entail a slightly accelerated decommissioning of Eskom power stations than that mapped out in the Integrated Resource Plan (IRP), the government’s long-term energy plan, said BusinessLive.