Mantashe's concerns over energy security linked to the transition are valid, says Creecy

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Minister of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries, Barbara Creecy  (Photo by Gallo Images/Sharon Seretlo).
Minister of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries, Barbara Creecy (Photo by Gallo Images/Sharon Seretlo).
Sharon Seretlo
  • Developed nations are mostly responsible for the climate crisis, but developing nations now have to bear the brunt of climate change, says Environment Minister Barbara Creecy.
  • She echoed the views of Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe that the pace and timing of the transition must be managed well to ensure energy security. 
  • Creecy says the department will give feedback on the outcomes of climate talks at COP26.

Environment, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Barbara Creecy says energy security concerns related to the transition to renewables - which have been raised by Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe - are valid.

She was responding to questions during a virtual consultation on Friday ahead of the UN's climate change conference - COP26 - to be held in Glasgow later this month.

In September, Creecy and other economic ministers engaged with envoys from the US, UK, France and European Union on securing climate funding of R76 billion.

This funding will help South Africa reduce its dependence on coal.

But Mantashe has been outspoken about not rushing the transition away from coal in favour of renewables.

"I am not saying coal forever … I am saying let's manage our transition step by step rather than being emotional," he previously said at the recent virtual mining conference - the Joburg Indaba.

Mantashe had answered a question on how China's pledge to not build new coal power stations abroad would affect South Africa, Reuters reported.

Despite a push to limit coal production and to meet climate change targets, China is now ramping up coal imports as it faces an electricity shortage.

In light of Mantashe's utterances, Creecy was asked of the relationship between the departments of environment, forestry and fisheries and mineral resources and energy, especially in terms of working to achieve the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs).

The NDCs are emissions reductions targets aligned to the Paris Agreement on climate change.

Creecy said the revised NDC target - to keep annual emissions between 350 and 420 megatons of carbon dioxide equivalent by 2030 - was approved by the Cabinet and all members are bound to it.

As for Mantashe's remarks reported in the media, Creecy said the concerns he raised over energy security were valid.

"If you look at the developed world at moment - there have been a number of instances - where they have rushed ahead with decommissioning plants and have landed up with energy complexities," she added.

The planning, timing and pacing of the transition was important to ensure energy security, said Creecy, adding this was particularly true for South Africa, which already had a generation deficit.

"These are important questions to be considered throughout the transition."

Mantashe had said richer nations should not impose conditions on developing nations in order for climate funding to be released, Bloomberg reported.

"We are a developing economy, they must talk to our programme," he added.

Echoing Mantashe's views, Creecy said it was important to note South Africa was a developing country, adding the country had wealth in the form of coal underground.

"If in due course we take a decision to leave coal underground, how is our country going to be supported in making that decision? It is very important to be asking these questions."

She said historically Africa had only contributed to 2% of global emissions and by extension the climate crisis.

"Other countries have developed their economies, they have developed their citizens, they have developed their infrastructure, they have created this crisis. Now we have to be responsible, and we are being responsible and we have indicated our intentions to be ambitious in helping the world to deal with the global problem of climate change. But we also have to ask - how is the world going to help us?"
Environment, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Barbara Creecy

Creecy added the department would give feedback on the outcome of climate talks at COP26.

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