The interplay between safeguarding the environment and ensuring that the country has enough affordable energy for its development needs, continues to pose many policy and legislative challenges. South Africa is a signatory to all the relevant international instruments regarding climate change, and has committed itself to work towards clean energy. However, we are a country with abundant supplies of coal, and potentially also of natural gas, and there will always be a temptation to use these resources even if they have negative environmental side-effects. There is also a strong lobby in favour of nuclear power, and there are suspicions that the government has already entered into agreements in this regard with international partners. The state-owned electricity company, Eskom, is the focus of much ‘state capture’ activity – attempts by politically connected businesspeople to gain influence over such entities in order to secure supply contracts and other deals. This threatens to affect both the production of electricity and the policy choices that must be made between sustainable and non-sustainable energy sources.
The question of sustainability also arises with regard to our freshwater resources and our oceans. South Africa is a dry country, and most climate change models predict that it will become drier. Our oceans ought to be the source of much employment and food security, but instead they have been over-exploited and will need extensive rehabilitation before they return to their former state. Both the Sustainable Development Goals and Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato Si’ encourage us to focus on environmental needs, and to find ways of preserving the earth and its riches.
- Climate Change and Global Warming
- Water and Oceans
- Sustainable Development Goals
- Laudato Si.