Can South Africa go green and say goodbye to coal?

Can South Africa go green and say goodbye to coal?


All developed economies around the world have an inherent responsibility to fund the transition involved with reducing carbon emissions to become a low carbon economy. South Africa is expecting a delegation from four of the richest nations in the world, namely the United States, the United Kingdom, France, and Germany during this coming week.

The aim behind this is to seek agreements with South African power utility, Eskom, to start closing coal-fired plants in the country. Eskom currently generates nearly all electricity on the South African grid from 15 coal plants, which holds detrimental impacts on the environment.

According to the South African Climate Action Tracker (CAT), South Africa’s climate targets and policies are currently on an “Insufficient” rating, which means that South Africa’s policies and commitments require renewed efforts to be improved so that the country is consistent with the Paris Agreement’s 1.5 degrees Celsius temperature limit.

How green is South Africa’s future?

Eskom has announced plans that it would start closing coal plants and have them partially replaced with renewable energy obtained from gas-fired power generation as well as battery storage. However, Eskom faces a debt burden of R402 billion which is standing in its way from borrowing more money to fund the much-needed and promised energy transition.

During the visit with the delegation from the developed nations, a range of funding options will be discussed, with the option of accessing funds up to $2 billion from a pledge made by the US, UK, France, and Germany during the G-7 meeting, which was held in June, in which the nations committed towards a global phase-out of coal.

Even though Africa overall emits less than 4% of the global Carbon Dioxide emissions to generate electricity, the energy infrastructure that is currently in place can have significant impacts on future emissions and living standards of millions of South Africans.

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