If there’s one topic that all world leaders are discussing at the World Economic Forum in Davos, it’s climate change and the need for urgent changes to address the problem. The Global Risks Report 2019 by the World Economic Forum has stated it in the clearest possible terms:
And it’s a theme that is being revisited over and over again in Davos. "What greater threat is there to our wellbeing than the current threat of climate change?" asked New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern in Davos yesterday. "GDP may say your country is thriving, but it's not thriving if it's also degrading the environment and contributing to CO2 emissions."
It’s not just government officials but business leaders who are demanding that climate change and new approaches to energy issues be put to the forefront of every agenda. “Energy efficiency is the one resource that every country possesses in abundance and it is the quickest and least costly way of addressing energy security, environmental and economic challenges,” explains Kim Fausing, the President and CEO of Danfoss.
This is particularly relevant now, in 2019, because of the Digital Industrial Revolution (also called the Fourth Industrial Revolution) and the impact that will have on the energy sector and our ability to combat climate change in the near future. “The bottom line: in the fight against man-made climate change, 4IR could make a meaningful difference – and it can’t come soon enough,” says Hans Vestberg, the Chief Executive Officer of Verizon Communications.
So where do we start the conversation, in a South African context? The current Eskom crisis is a good place to start, but what we need - more than a series of opinions being spouted, or articles outlining Eskom’s failings - is a rigorous debate, with experts in all the associated fields to contribute.
Power Futures SA is facilitating this debate. A platform for inclusive, evidence-based dialogue for a just and transformed South African energy sector, Power Futures SA pulls together experts to shed light on the energy transition. It is run from within the University of Cape Town Graduate School of Business’s MIRA research group and is launching with a discussion on The Eskom Crisis and the Energy Transition. This is an ideal opportunity to join the conversation, participate in the discussion and learn more about where South Africa stands in the green energy transition.
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The South African government aims to reduce coal’s share of total capacity from almost 80% in 2017 to 46% by 2030. The government also announced new plans to quadruple renewable energy’s share of capacity to 36% in 2030.
Among the G20‚ South Africa’s thermal coal use is the highest and its use of renewable energy is the second-lowest.
South Africa is the continent's largest energy consumer and holds about half of Africa's electricity generation capacity.
It is the fifth largest coal producer in the world.
90% of electricity in South Africa is currently supplied by coal.
In 2008, Eskom held an A1 investment grade credit rating. Last year, ratings agency Standard & Poor’s maintained Eskom’s rating at CCC+. Several levels deep into junk territory (and with a negative outlook).