South Africa has just been given a purse of $8.5 billion to help accelerated its move away from coal. But as the international climate negotiations wrapped up in Glasgow, a few key developments at home suggest that the continent’s biggest polluter is not in a hurry to end its relationship with coal. Leonie Joubert takes a closer look.
When South Africa emerged from the most severe of the COVID lockdowns in 2020, nearly one in three employable adults was jobless. The country’s escalating unemployment is a symptom of an unequal economy inherited from generations of colonial- and apartheid-era exploitation. Could a universal basic income be the answer to a more equitable post-carbon world? Leonie Joubert investigates.
Southern Africa is warming at twice the rate of the global average. Worsening drought and rising temperatures are likely to bring about a collapse of two keystone agricultural activities — livestock and maize farming — warns the latest climate science, presented in the long-awaited United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) new report.
Civil society organisations in South Africa are proposing a post-WW2-style economic recovery programme to steer energy transformation for the state utility that echoes Roosevelt’s New Deal in the USA. But the country has been thrown into an even deeper energy crisis, following an explosion at one of the country’s newly-minted power stations. Could this make the ‘Green New Eskom’ idea even more relevant? Leonie Joubert investigates.
What better way to set a country on a path to a just transition than to allow lower-income families to harvest the free solar energy falling on or around their homes, and sell it to the national grid? After years of regulatory deadlock on the private sale of electricity in South Africa, sudden tectonic policy changes mean community energy co-operatives might be able to join the energy supply sector.
South Africa is taking emergency steps to plug the holes in a leaky electricity grid that are causing another season of scheduled power outages. One of these involves hiring three plug-and-play ocean-based mobile power stations – so-called ‘powerships’. But local energy experts warn that these are risky, expensive, and that the money would be far better spent building utility scale solar and wind plants.
A year since the first COVID-19 cases appeared in South Africa, the disease has killed more than 50,000 people. A new study now shows that a similar number of South Africans die each year due to diseases caused by air pollution linked with the burning of fossil fuels.
The window of opportunity to keep the average global temperature from breaking through the ceiling of 2°C — or preferably 1.5°C — as set out in the UN’s Paris Agreement is closing fast. But for parts of the Kalahari, a vast semi-desert in southern Africa, the battle to stabilise the regional temperature is already lost. Botswana is expected to reach an average warming of 2°C in less than five years. At a time when the science warns that countries need to keep their fossil fuels in the ground, conservationists here have expressed alarm at the news that oil and gas prospecting licenses have been issued for large parts of Botswana and Namibia, including in the ecologically and water-sensitive Okavango Delta and Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park. Leonie Joubert reports
News media is a load-bearing wall in a healthy democracy. It informs the public discourse, shapes citizens’ active participation in day-to-day governance, and holds elected officials to account. The rise of social media platforms like YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter in the past decade shows what happens when this new media ecosystem replaces traditional news as a primary source of information — and misinformation. What does this mean for the stability of African democracies, and the continent’s ability to tackle the climate crisis? Leonie Joubert has the story.
Africa’s contribution to the global share of the carbon pollution that is destabilising Earth’s climate is relatively small. A just transition for the continent needs, therefore, to lean towards adapting to an unstable climate, ahead of aggressive mitigation efforts. A case study from South Africa shows how a Green New Deal-approach could help restore damaged ecosystems, buffer communities against climate shocks, and boost job opportunities in a country with high unemployment. Leonie Joubert reports.