Greenpeace Africa appreciates that President Cyril Ramaphosa is seemingly taking the “climate crisis” seriously.
Commenting on the President’s State of the Nation Address (SoNA), which was delivered on Thursday, Greenpeace Africa political adviser Happy Khambule says Ramaphosa has displayed leadership in recognising the difficulty and complexity of the situation brought about by Eskom’s self-imposed years of decay.
Ramaphosa said rooftop solar would be prioritised going forward to safeguard South Africa’s future.
“Restructuring the electricity supply industry away from a polluting monopoly is a step in the right direction. However, it falls short of solving Eskom’s addiction to dirty coal, which is creating our current ‘managed’ blackouts while devastating communities with toxic air and grotesque water wastage.
“The proposal could do more to centre the utility's future on renewable energy rather than reckless extensions of Eskom's ageing fleet of highly polluting coal-fired power stations,” Khambule highlights.
He adds that a just transition towards renewable energy needs to be at the core of Eskom’s new business plan and it is good that Ramaphosa has “seen the light” in this regard.
However, Greenpeace Africa believes extreme caution must be applied to the utility’s debt restructuring proposals. The organisation alludes to the possibility of using government workers’ pension money to alleviate some of Eskom’s debt, which was proposed, and subsequently put on hold, by a trade union earlier this month.
“We now need to see bold action for people and the climate. The President must take a decisive stand to phase out coal. Coal kills and exacerbates the air pollution and climate crises,” says Khambule.