Greenpeace calls for South African climate leadership

2010-11-30 14:28

South Africa should put on its global leadership hat at the UN climate talks in Mexico as it prepares to host the next round of talks next year, environmental defence group Greenpeace today.

“The South African government must seize the opportunity of being the hosting country of the climate talks next year and take a leadership role now,” Greenpeace said in a statement the day after the latest round of talks under the 194-party UN Framework Convention on Climate Change kicked off in Cancun.

South Africa will host the next round of talks in the eastern port city of Durban next year.

“South Africa must not only push for a deal in the international negotiations, but must also choose a sustainable pathway to a clean energy future domestically,” Greenpeace said.

Africa’s largest economy currently relies on coal for about 90% of its yearly electricity production of almost 40 000 megawatts.

The country is currently holding public meetings aimed at finalising a new energy policy.

The draft plan aims to slash carbon emissions by 30%, cutting coal’s contribution to the energy mix to about half while drawing 16% of electricity from renewable energy and 14% from nuclear power.

It includes plans to build six new nuclear reactors over the next 20 years, a proposal that drew criticism from Greenpeace activists.

“We are concerned with the nuclear ambitions South Africa has,” climate and energy campaigner Nkopane Maphiri told journalists in Johannesburg.

“The nuclear lobby is pushing very strong to say that nuclear energy is clean” at the Cancun talks, Maphiri said – but without mentioning safety issues or the problem of disposing of nuclear waste, he added.

In September, South Africa’s nuclear energy regulator said 91 employees at the Koeberg reactor, the country’s only nuclear power station, were exposed to low-level radiation during maintenance on the plant.

Regulators say they are investigating the incident, which did not trigger the reactor’s alarm system.

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