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Africa|Energy|Environment|Exploration|Financial|Gas|Infrastructure|Marine|Oil And Gas|Oil-and-gas|Petroleum|plates|Renewable Energy|Renewable-Energy|Resources|Sustainable|Environmental|Infrastructure

Environmental leaders call for withdrawal of National Petroleum Company Bill

5th December 2023

By: Schalk Burger

Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor


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Five leaders of environmental organisations have, in an open letter to President Cyril Ramaphosa, called on government to immediately withdraw the National Petroleum Company Bill in addition to stopping all oil and gas exploration off South Africa’s coastline.

The Green Connection strategic lead Liziwe McDaid, Earthlife Africa director Makoma Lekalakala, groundWork director Bobby Peek, Treasure Karoo Action Group CEO Jonathan Deal, and South Durban Community Environmental Alliance (SDCEA) founder and coordinator Desmond D’Sa called on Ramaphosa to take a decisive lead on climate action.

The draft Bill released for public comment outlines the establishment of the South African National Petroleum Company, with the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy as the sole shareholder and will combine iGas, PetroSA and the Strategic Fuel Fund into one State-owned enterprise.

This, in effect, aims to promote further fossil fuel development at a time when countries should be divesting, in line with multilateral international commitments, the environmental organisations say.

“We must wean ourselves off our dependence on fossil fuels, and fast. The just transition means a complete overhaul of how we do things, and what we do over the next three to five years will determine whether South Africa will move forward or fall behind in the global transition from fossil fuels,” says Lekalakala.

“Also, because our environmental struggles are linked to our social struggles, South Africans need government to rather spend its time, effort and money on sustainable, renewable energy and to prepare and equip communities to fully participate in the transition.

“Adding another National Petroleum Company is a move in the wrong direction and contradicts the spirit of the [climate negotiations Conference of the Parties] COP. This Bill will potentially destroy marine and coastal biodiversity, thus robbing people of their livelihoods and sustainable living that has been protected for centuries,” she says.

“President Ramaphosa must do the right by the country and its people. We should not be taking loans from the World Bank to continue keeping the fossil fuel dynasty alive. We urgently need change to address global warming, which is the cause of the climate crises affecting our poor and marginalised communities the most,” notes D'Sa.

“Africa’s short-term future may need some fossil fuels, but its long-term sustainability lies in the hands of ethical and courageous leaders who can connect the honeybee to the food on their plates. The environment is the real economy,” Deal adds.

Finance for loss and damage is a key focus for this year’s COP28. It is estimated that, by 2030, developing countries will require yearly financial support ranging from $200-billion to $580-billion to address the costs associated with loss and damage.

African countries, in particular, have a significant adaptation gap. This means that African countries generally have neither the resources, nor the fiscal space required, to cover the costs of implementing the adaptation required to limit loss and damage.

South Africa must urgently engage Africa’s leadership at COP28 to take the lead on phasing out fossil fuels on the continent, the activists said.

“Why, on the eve of COP28 where our government is going to negotiate for money to address loss and damage from climate impacts that we currently experience and where we are trying to get money to move away from fossil fuels in a just energy transition, does the government publish a piece of legislation for a national oil company, which will obviously take us in the wrong direction by encouraging more fossil fuels use?

“We believe this is hypocritical and therefore ask that, if government is serious about addressing climate change and the Just Energy Transition, the President withdraws this legislation,” says McDaid.

South Africa is extremely vulnerable to climate change. Many communities have already felt its devastating effects, including the 2015 to 2017 drought in the Western Cape, the 2022 Durban flood, which has been described as the most damaging in terms of loss of lives, homes and infrastructure, and economic impact recorded in KwaZulu-Natal, and the June and September 2023 flooding in the Western Cape, the organisations say.

Edited by Chanel de Bruyn
Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor Online





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