12 JULY 2019
MANTASHE SHOWS HIS HAND AS SA GOVERNMENT BACKSLIDES ON ITS ENERGY PLANS
In his budget speech on Thursday, Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy, Gwede Mantashe made it clear that he and his department are out of touch and wilfully unaware of how their proposed energy plans would further add to the country’s climate crisis. This is according to the Southern African Faith Communities’ Environment Institute (SAFCEI), which calls the Minister’s speech “a damning reflection” on his department and their grasp of the climate crisis. His plan continues to call for a future dependent on fossil fuels – responsible for global warming, dramatic changes in rainfall patterns and an increase of extreme weather events – and nuclear.
SAFCEI’s Youth Ambassador, Sizwe Manqele says, “It is really disturbing that our government is so short-sighted in our country’s future energy plans. If our leaders refuse to acknowledge the climate crisis, then we – especially the youth of South Africa – are in serious trouble. If we keep repeating what we’ve always done, then we will continue to get the same outcomes.”
“Minister Mantashe, there is an outcry from the youth of this country, but the government is not listening. How can we rely on our government to make good decisions when you, our elders seem to be out of touch with reality? Since climate change is largely due to fossil fuels, why are we not exploring more sustainable options more diligently? With your model, whole communities are being degraded and suffering from pollution, and more and more young South Africans are experiencing increased inequality and poverty,” says Manqele.
“As a young South African, I want to see evidence of good and ethical governance from our country’s decision-makers. The plans proposed are decisions that must involve all citizens, particularly those whose livelihoods are under direct threat as the Minister plans to build more dirty energy infrastructure. Furthermore, why would the Minister say that we will spend more on nuclear, when we know that nuclear is dangerous and too expensive? Why would he say more coal, oil and gas mining, when these are causing climate change and affecting the quality of life for many of our fellow citizens?
SAFCEI’s Executive Director, Francesca de Gasparis says that the science is clear. “Climate change is our reality and it should be informing and influencing our decisions around energy, mineral resources and the environment. We are disappointed to see that the South African government has already chosen to backslide from the balanced decision-making we saw under previous Minister Radebe.”
de Gasparis says that SAFCEI disagrees with the Minister’s assertion that, just because South Africa has the resources, it should be exploited to the end. “The decision to merge the department of Mineral Resources with Energy has resulted in a mining and extractive-based approach being applied to our energy planning. Instead of South Africa leading in the global shift to renewables and creating jobs and opportunities with affordable, scalable and accessible renewable energy systems, we still hear – from decision-makers – that we need to ignore our free sun and wind, and rather keep digging up and fracking our land to have expensive electricity.”
“We must consider the bigger picture. Minister Mantashe says that he is not biased, but by ignoring climate science, global markets and trends in energy production and economic growth models, his bias is clear. How will these decisions affect the welfare of citizens? More investments in coal, gas, oil and nuclear. None of these are sustainable and they are all very costly to develop. How the minister arrived at the “unbiased” view he presented in his budget speech, is anyone’s guess,” concludes de Gasparis.
According to SAFCEI’s Energy Justice Coordinator, Vainola Makan, “Minister Mantashe is taking us back to the days of Zuma where the energy budget continued to focus on activities that promote further climate change. It is clear that the Minister does not fully grasp the threats we, as a people, are facing. Like the energy ministers in the age of Zuma corruption, the negative impact of bad energy decisions on the Earth and South Africans’ ability to live off the land, is not considered.”
Makan asserts, “The Minister is using moral and ethical phrases to bring back old outdated and irrational energy choices that most environmental and economic justice experts have condemned over the past few years. He appeals to the myth of “affordable” nuclear and “clean” coal, and mentioned good governance as an important basis for energy policy. However, there is no mention of a strategy to curb corruption and ensure good governance within the energy sector, which has been the main pot of gold for those involved in state capture.”
“The Minister seems to ignore all the advice and cautions from independent research, as well as from those communities who are forced to live in sub-standard conditions, as a result of poor energy decisions. This budget speech contradicts the previous draft Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) and we therefore, call for a review on the budget vote and a prioritisation of renewable energy sources as future direction of energy policy and spending,” concludes Makan.
Issued by Natasha Adonis, on behalf of SAFCEI. For more information, contact Natasha on 0797-999-654 (also available on WhatsApp) or firstname.lastname@example.org.