Speech delivered by President Jacob Zuma on the occasion of the World Economic Forum Green Partnership Dialogue, High Level Roundtable Meeting, Inkosi Albert Luthuli International Convention Centre, Durban
4 Dec 2011
The Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, and COP 17 President,
Ms Maite Nkoana-Mashabane;
Minister of Environmental Affairs, Ms Edna Molewa;
Colleagues and friends,
Let me start by welcoming you to the UNFCCC climate change conference, COP17, a gathering to decide the future of the planet as a whole.
Our central challenges here are to balance the development needs of our people today against the imperatives for our common future.
I am happy to have this opportunity to share with you our plans and actions towards a low-carbon economy.
Colleagues and friends,
Historically, the South African economy was built on our mineral riches, starting with diamonds and gold and expanding into platinum, steel and a host of other metals.
That economic foundation was in turn largely founded on low-cost energy from our abundant coal. As a result, today we have one of the most energy intensive economies in the world.
The wealth beneath our soil shaped South Africa for both the good and the bad. It shaped the buildings and infrastructure around you, the lovely cities and the resorts.
At the same time, it was not used to shape and improve the villages and townships on the outskirts of our towns and cities.
Indeed, the apartheid system was largely designed to support mining by providing cheap labour and cheap electricity, as well as the logistics systems needed to get our mineral riches to foreign markets.
Today, we know that our old growth path, with its premise of plentiful but high carbon-emitting energy, comes at a big cost to the environment.
We will now have to establish new kinds of production and find new ways to produce goods which will reduce both our economy's use of energy and emissions from energy production.
This will require a profound and far-reaching change in our economy, one that will affect us all.
This transformation will provide openings for new investment, production and employment. The challenge is to find opportunities amidst the costs and risks.
It is not a job just for government or business or labour alone. It is something we must work on together.
For instance, bringing in new sources of electricity requires government to regulate the national grid. It needs business to invest and bring its technological and managerial expertise to the table.
Labour will be required to support the necessary training and to help fund projects through investment from members' retirement savings for instance.
That kind of collaboration is the only way we can make a greener economy possible in economic, social and political terms.
Beyond the narrow economic needs of transformation, we must also ensure that everyone gets something out of the process.
Above all, we must make sure that poor communities do not end up footing the bill, whether through job losses or high prices.
That would indeed make the whole process not only inhumane but ultimately unsustainable.
Dear friends and colleagues,
Just over a year ago, South Africa adopted a new policy framework that pointed to the need for changes in our economy. Our New Growth Path focuses on achieving more inclusive as well as greener growth.
To start with, it targets employment creation as the most important step toward shared growth in South Africa.
We are encouraging more labour-intensive activities that can create employment opportunities on a mass scale.
But our New Growth Path also addresses the emissions intensity of growth. Three of the most important areas for achieving that aim are renewable and nuclear energy, green transport and the built environment.
They offer opportunities for investment and employment creation in an array of activities in the short and long run.
In the very short run, we will get jobs from services associated with cleaning up the environment, especially recycling, cleaning public spaces, and controlling invasive species.
Already we have public employment schemes creating tens of thousands of jobs in these areas.
We are also rolling out the installation of solar water heating units that are creating jobs and bringing clean energy into the homes of people.
A critical step in realising these opportunities for growth while reducing emissions was the adoption of our Integrated Resource Plan for electricity.
It foresees that in the coming decades, at least a third of new electricity generation will come from renewable sources.
We are developing regulatory frameworks and support systems to encourage the production of electricity as well as the new technologies required to meet this ambitious target.
We have also created an important platform, the Presidential Infrastructure Co-ordinating Commission, which must ensure that the necessary investments in new electricity generation are aligned with our broader development strategy.
This Commission is drawing on expertise from across our society to ensure adequate, efficient and productive investment in infrastructure.
It provides a central instrument to achieve our aims around transforming the energy sector in particular by supporting new kinds of generation, including renewable energy.
In short, as these examples show, we as government have begun to implement the New Growth Path's commitments, including around the green economy.
But again, this is not just an issue for the state.
For this reason, we have captured our commitments in an accord with organised business, labour and other representatives of civil society who come together under the auspices of the country's National Economic Development and Labour Council or NEDLAC.
The Accord is one of the most comprehensive social partnerships on the green economy anywhere in the world.
It covers not only green investments but also our shared commitment to ensuring that the benefits of those investments are more broadly spread.
Let me highlight some of the specific elements of the accord.
First, government is committed to procuring almost 4 000 megawatts of renewable energy for the national grid by 2016.
That is more than this beautiful coastal city of Durban uses in a year. It is equal to around a tenth of national generation today.
Our electricity utility, Eskom, and business will also continue to work on technologies to further reduce emissions from coal-fired plants.
The solar and wind energy industries have targeted the creation of at least 50 000 green jobs by 2020. Government will also support the installation of one million solar water heating systems by 2014 to 2015.
That will provide the basis for expanding local production of components and heating systems.
Organised labour will work with us to help establish cooperatives to undertake installation and maintenance.
More importantly, all the parties will promote the manufacturing and distribution of clean cooking stoves and heaters for the local and continental market.
This is an often overlooked area of emissions, but it has enormous implications for the health of poor communities - which in South Africa are often shrouded in smoke in the winter.
Moreover, it should help reduce the burdens of collecting wood and cooking that are usually borne mostly by women.
Second, as the discussions at COP 17 underscore, financing is a critical component of any strategy to green our economies. We obviously need to tap into international sources.
This will be achieved partially through our Industrial Development Corporation, which will provide up to R25 billion for investments in green economy activities over the next five years.
In addition, business has committed to strengthening existing efforts by financial institutions to fund investments in the green economy. It will also actively pursue investment opportunities in manufacturing linked to renewable energy initiatives.
Organised labour will promote retirement fund investment in green investment vehicles that will create jobs and support our broader goals of greening the economy.
Third, business has committed to improving the environmental performance of existing production facilities.
It will develop benchmarks for energy efficiency by industry as well as company energy-management plans. These plans will implement the National Energy Efficiency Strategy, which targets a reduction in energy intensity of at least 10% by 2015.
Organised labour will establish joint workplace committees to discuss and implement energy efficiency plans.
It will undertake a "lights-off after hours” campaign in buildings and workplaces and educate members on the importance of energy efficiency.
Government will introduce regulations to phase out the bright light bulbs and replace them with energy efficient ones.
Fourth, government will provide a supportive regulatory environment for the biofuels industry, including the finalisation of mandatory blending regulations and incentives.
Finally, government will invest in mass-transport systems to reduce reliance on private cars. Initial steps have been taken on bus rapid transport and commuter rail.
By 2014, the state-owned commuter rail company, PRASA, will invest R20 billion in new trains, most of which will be manufactured locally.
Government will also review its rail investment programme in order to accelerate the shift of freight transport to rail from road.
The state-owned transport enterprise, Transnet, will invest about R63 billion in the freight rail system over the next five years. For its part, organised business will continue to promote greater use of rail freight by companies.
Our Green Economy Accord also includes a strong commitment to ensuring that the benefits of the activities reach young people and those historically excluded from our formal economy.
In particular, government and business have set a target of 80% youth amongst new employees in the manufacturing and installation of solar-water heating systems as well as government's public works programmes to green the economy.
Moreover, all the parties have agreed to a variety of measures and programmes to bring smaller and social enterprises into the green economy.
As you can tell from the accord, the main opportunities will arise around renewable energy; biofuels; cleaner coal; more energy efficient technologies for production; and greening our buildings.
We will, during COP 17, share our experiences while also learning from other nations who are going through similar economic transformation.
Together as governments, business, labour and other sectors, we must form strong partnerships and cooperate to achieve the objectives of COP 17, to save tomorrow, today.
This World Economic Forum roundtable offers an opportunity to forge and strengthen such partnerships.
I wish you well with the deliberations.
I thank you.
Issued by: The Presidency
4 Dec 2011
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