Johannesburg – South Africa has renewable resources that can provide solutions to the country’s energy problems and create jobs – while fighting global warming, Greenpeace officials said on Wednesday.
“Greenpeace’s estimate that 78 000 green jobs could be created is conservative,” Glen Mpufane, who heads a development group, who joined a Greenpeace forum on green jobs on Wednesday.
Unemployment is around 25 percent in South Africa, which was hard hit by the global recession.
Environmental groups in South Africa are campaigning for a major move toward renewable energy rather than nuclear and coal energy. The government says it needs coal and nuclear energy now to grow, but plans to move toward renewable energy later.
“South Africa needs a paradigm shift in terms of renewable energy,” said Olivia Langhoff, director of the Greenpeace jobs campaign.
Eskom, South Africa’s state-owned electricity supplier, experienced a supply crisis in 2007 due to ailing infrastructure. That led to power rationing that hurt economic output.
“We are asking from the government to be more ambitious in their targets of generating electricity from renewable energy,” said Melita Steele, a Greenpeace energy and climate campaigner. “A minimum of 36 percent of the country’s electricity should come from renewed energy sources by 2030.”
Richard Worthington, the climate change programme manager for the World Wildlife Foundation, agreed with the Greenpeace initiative. He said up to 55 percent of the country’s power can be generated from renewables as South Africa has very rich renewable resources.
In April, the World Bank approved a $3.75-billion loan to help South Africa build a major coal-fired plant in the north, though the United States and environmental groups have expressed worries about its impact.
South Africa is the only African nation among the 20 countries that emit nearly 90 percent of the world’s greenhouse gases. South African environmental officials have a long-term plan to reduce emissions, but say that in the short term the country needs polluting technologies to develop.
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