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Saliem Fakir

Saliem Fakir

Fakir is interim executive director of the African Climate Foundation – saliem@africanclimatefoundation.org

Carbon tax – some pragmatism is needed

By: Saliem Fakir     7th August 2015 The furore over the carbon tax that is playing itself out in public and behind closed doors is leading to an impasse. From the submissions made to the Davis Commission (which is reviewing the general tax system), it can be said that industry does not want it and probably never wants to ever see... 

International climate change bargaining disappointing

By: Saliem Fakir     17th July 2015 Scientific persuasion could not be more compelling than the growing evidence that climate change and variability pose the greatest threat to humanity. But whether collective political action will be taken to solve this challenge remains to be seen. Even the Pope Francis is convinced that... 

Delinking from the minerals sector

By: Saliem Fakir     3rd July 2015 Minerals and energy resources will continue to play an important role in South Africa’s economy. It is what South Africa does that will determine its future. While we have substantial minerals strategic global value, such as platinum-group minerals, titanium, chrome and manganese, besides others.... 

We should stop building big power plants. Period!

By: Saliem Fakir     5th June 2015 The current crisis at at power utility Eskom is a result of policy decisions made during and after apartheid. Faulty energy paradigms, political interference and a corporatist mentality have ensured that Eskom has lost its public-good compass. One entity alone has and continues to create systemic... 

Engel’s Curve and the pollution question

By: Saliem Fakir     3rd April 2015 Pollution remains one of the challenging issues for many emerging economies. They want growth and development before worrying about dealing with the long-term externality problems. There are several sources of the pollution: coal-fired power plants, vehicles, refineries, smelters and cheap, dirty... 

New approach to mining needed

By: Saliem Fakir     13th March 2015 There is a need for a more holistic view of mining than the current compliance mode of governance. By holistic, one means working on the full virtuous cycle in which depleting valuable resources are used to generate other types of assets and capital formation. The current model for mining has... 

US shale extraction and the mirage that was

20th February 2015 Unconventional reserves, unlike cheap conventional sources, remain vulnerable to market conditions, technology and geological characteristics. Transplanting from one country condition to another will always remain a challenge, given the different conditions that prevail. The US situation... 

Renewables-related job creation

By: Saliem Fakir     30th January 2015 Most jobs in renewables are created during installation. This is not different from constructing a soccer stadium or building the next Carlton Centrehere there are foundations to be laid, cement poured and steel pillars to be erected they sort of amount to the same thing in the early phases of... 

What to do about the South African economy

By: Saliem Fakir     23rd January 2015 Improving the performance of, and labour participation in, the primary sectors of the South African and the manufacturing sector should be priority. We have had massive job losses in the mining sector, a situation that contrasts with the 1970s. The same is true for agriculture, which has been in... 

Denmark’s green technology export thrust

By: Saliem Fakir     7th November 2014 I was invited by the Danish Embassy in South Africa to undertake a study tour of the Nordic country with fellow South Africans. There were 12 of us from both the public sector and the private sector. We were hosted by an organisation called the State of Green. The main aim of the State of Green... 

South Africa in the Brics – opportunity or a lost cause?

By: Saliem Fakir     3rd October 2014 The Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (Brics) meeting held in Fortaleza, Brazil, in July, ended with the establishment of the Brics bank, called the New Development Bank, raising not only important questions about the role of the bank but also South Africa’s place in the Brics. What... 

Future urban centres and role of innovative city planning for energy systems

By: Saliem Fakir     5th September 2014 After a long process of consultation, the Integrated Urban Development Framework (IDUF) has been released for further discussion and debate. The IDUF is a slim document but contains numerous ideas and thoughts on how to take forward the National Development Plan’s objectives of ensuring South... 

Living wages, living allowances and the platinum strike

By: Saliem Fakir     18th July 2014 Debates on living wages or minimum wages are not unique to South Africa. You will find similar debates in France, the UK and the US following a recession and growing household debt in these countries. Because of the globalisation of the world labour pool, low- and semiskilled workers have been... 

Electricity generation and future prices

By: Saliem Fakir     4th July 2014 Living with an electricity monopoly mandated to provide basic services is always a double-edged sword. If it is well run and efficient, it can be a boon for consumers and the public in general. If it is run poorly and inefficiently, the aftershocks will hurt consumers' pocket and eat at the tax... 

Four reasons why nuclear is dead beat 

By: Saliem Fakir     30th May 2014 I attended a recent Academy of Science of South Africa (Assaf) conference on nuclear power in Pretoria.  It brought to fore the mountain of justification – moral, financial and technical – the nuclear build programme has to climb for it to gain a foothold in our energy mix. For those who were... 

What should we make of the economics of US shale gas industry? 

By: Saliem Fakir     9th May 2014 There is heightened activity on the shale-gas front. Government is pushing ahead with hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, and the Department of Environmental Affairs recently completed a life-cycle analysis (LCA) of shale-gas, compared with conventional gas. The picture presented by the DEA report... 

The impact of energy prices on food inflation

By: Saliem Fakir     11th April 2014 On the surface, the relation between high electricity and oil prices and food inflation can be perceived as linear rather than dynamic. There is a relation but it is more complicated. Here are few insights that may help us understand the dynamic. Final food prices (Pf) are made up of a number of... 

The good and the bad in the latest IRP

By: Saliem Fakir     21st March 2014 The latest version of the Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) has some interesting changes, which could have far-reaching consequences for South Africa’s electricity mix. This IRP is a vast improvement on the 2010 plan, featuring more flexibility to respond to real-life situations as the economy... 

Electricity price hikes and their impact on mining

By: Saliem Fakir     21st February 2014 The recent rise in electricity prices is eating away at everybody’s pockets. While energy-intensive users are the largest consumers of electricity, in terms of total share, they receive prices at wholesale rates rather than retail prices. What ordinary citizens would pay for electricity supplied... 

Enviro externalities and how to deal with them

By: Saliem Fakir     24th January 2014 All environmental externalities emanate from the economy and they also reflect the evolution and moment at which societal values are. In reality, as people’s income and levels of education grow, so too do their preferences for better environmental standards and quality. The question then remains... 

Time is ripe for large-scale solar photovoltaic

By: Saliem Fakir     6th December 2013 While the cost of electricity steadily rises and the demand for energy increases, South Africa, a country boasting abundant sunlight, continues to dig deep for high-quality coal to power the nation. Many households and businesses have begun turning to solar power to supplement their energy needs... 

MDG 7 review an opportunity for realignment

By: Saliem Fakir     8th November 2013 The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) are up for review and, by 2015, a new MDG framework has to be put in place, and sustainability issues are gaining prominence. MDG 7 focuses on the environment, and various experts are arguing for its redesign. The future of MDG7 lies in interlacing... 

The future of central grids

By: Saliem Fakir     4th October 2013 Is it possible that we can have a new world in which the central grid is outdated and a more diffused and dispersed system takes its place? Is this wishful thinking? 

National planning and the role of markets

By: Saliem Fakir     6th September 2013 The National Development Plan (NDP) is receiving vitriol from both the left and liberals these days. The left sees the NDP as being too market friendly, while the right sees it as being too Statist. 

Oil abounds globally, but SA faces uncertainty

By: Saliem Fakir     2nd August 2013 Each day, more oil is discovered and the earth seems to spew more of the stuff, mocking the peak oil pundits and adding to the anxieties of climate change watchers. However, increasing supply through conventional and unconventional sources does not suggest that those who do not have the resource... 

Carbon tax – the implications for South Africa

By: Saliem Fakir     5th July 2013 In South Africa, there is considerable ambiguity and debate about the implications of tax distortions in the economy and the tax interaction effects arising from the carbon tax. There have been attempts at modelling this and, depending on one's assumptions, the results can often be ambiguous –... 

Carbon tax – we must be prepared for what others may throw at us

By: Saliem Fakir     7th June 2013 Minds become focused when things get real rather than abstract. This is what is beginning to happen since the National Treasury released its new discussion document on the carbon tax and the Minister of Finance announced that a carbon tax would become effective in January 2015. 

Marrying the carbon budget idea with a carbon tax

By: Saliem Fakir     10th May 2013 The Long-Term Mitigation Scenarios (LTMS) envisage a purposive transition during which there are insignificant barriers, there is no competition for resources, obtaining resources is not a problem and coordination is not hampered by the stretching of intellectual and skills capability. It... 

South Africa's IRP2010 blueprint is outdated

By: Saliem Fakir     12th April 2013 Since the first Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) was drafted in 2010, the world has changed: Fukushima happened, more gas has been confirmed off the east coast of Africa, Germany has decided to stop its nuclear programme, renewables prices have come down and South Africa has just concluded, very... 

Green growth or deep green economy?

By: Saliem Fakir     8th March 2013 Green growth or deep green economy? The green economy debate has been in South Africa for at least 5 years. The green economy also has other names: “low carbon transition”, “sustainable development” etc. Perhaps in that respect it is not new and you can literally trace the advent of the rise of... 

Of oil refineries, nuclear plants and the planning fallacy

By: Saliem Fakir     8th February 2013 The great project Mthombo (new large refinery capacity) and the proposed 9.6 GW nuclear fleet is still on the cards.  Both do not only describe the need for vast capital investments but also the promise of the world – jobs, energy security, community upliftment, localisation and cost savings.... 

The challenge of fossil fuel binding constraints

By: Saliem Fakir     18th January 2013 Despite the failure of the recent round of the Doha climate change talks, the national project on a low-carbon transition requires continued impetus. 

LTMS and the challenge of long-term technology planning

By: Saliem Fakir     7th December 2012 Many moons ago, South Africa did pioneering work on how best we can meet our international climate mitigation obligations.  

Negotiating the CSP maze

By: Saliem Fakir     9th November 2012 I attended a recent workshop jointly hosted by the Academy of Science of South Africa and the German National Academy of Sciences (which is known as Lepoldina) in Pretoria. 

Will renewables IPPs work?

By: Saliem Fakir     5th October 2012 The independent power producer (IPP) process has an explicit specification that communities should be co-owners in any renewables projects in terms of government's broad-based black economic empowerment (BBBEE) policy.  

Are we on the cusp of a power grid revolution? 

By: Saliem Fakir     7th September 2012 Is distributed generation the future and the central grid old hat? There is a great facility in convention: its longevity of presence gives it confidence that nothing after it is possible nor superior. It will last forever. Convention also nurtures a certain intellectual habit and conceit. Habits... 

National interests are barriers to regional energy integration

By: Saliem Fakir     3rd August 2012 Intra-regional trade between South Africa and Africa is growing but still low compared to other regions in the world. Tomorrow’s economic prospects for South Africa lay firmly in how the regional question is dealt with. Concentrations of economic growth in different centers of growth in various... 

Planned ISMO unlikely to be panacea for power sector’s woes

By: Saliem Fakir     29th June 2012 The proposal to introduce an independent system and market operator (ISMO) into South Africa’s power generation sector seems to have found favour with government. However, it remains to be seen whether an ISMO would help in resolving the country’s electricity woes by encouraging and benefiting... 

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