New Book: ‘Sustainable Stellenbosch: Opening Dialogues edited by Mark Swilling, Ben Sebitosi, Ruenda Loots’

Description: Stellenbosch faces the same challenges that most South African urban areas face: rapid urbanisation, sluggish economic growth, growing inequalities, unsustainable use of natural resources, deteriorating biodiversity, social problems, unhealthy living, insecure supplies of healthy food, degrading soils, infrastructure backlogs and inadequate urban planning. Continue reading

Table of Contents Alert: Transnational Environmental Law 1 (1)

See below for some of the articles that was published in the inaugural issue of  Transnational Environmental Law 1 (1)

Confronting the Challenge of Energy Governance
Neil Gunningham
Abstract: There is a compelling argument for developing a low carbon emissions trajectory to mitigate climate change and for doing so urgently. What is needed is a transformation of the energy sector and an ‘energy revolution’. Such a revolution can only be achieved through effective energy governance nationally, regionally, and globally. But frequently such governance is constrained by the tensions between energy security, climate change mitigation and energy poverty. At national level, there is a chasm between what is needed and what governments do ‘on the ground’, while regionally and globally, collective action challenges have often presented insurmountable obstacles. The article examines what forms of energy law, regulation and governance are most needed to overcome these challenges and whether answers are most likely to be found in hierarchy, markets, or networks.

Innovativeness and Paralysis in International Climate Policy
Charlotte Streck
Abstract: This article describes the challenges of using the constrained tools of international law to negotiate a sustainable framework to address climate change. It sets out to show how the particularities of the problem have led to creative and innovative solutions expanding the borders of international law. To this end, the article discusses carbon market mechanisms, the compliance regime of the Kyoto Protocol, and the emerging framework to create incentives to reduce land-based emissions in developing countries. These examples illustrate that the recognition of the role of sub-national and private entities in mitigating climate change has had significant impact on the rules of the climate regime. But the article also asserts that the un process, while recognizing the role of private actors, is still inadequately equipped to involve non-state actors in a meaningful way. The climate regime therefore challenges the traditional thinking about interstate relationships. No longer solely a matter for international environmental law, contemporary environmental governance has become a global affair, which makes the lens of transnational law a useful tool to think about these issues in practice in a more intellectually fruitful and relevant way. This article thereby provides a snapshot of the type of issues and discussion that readers of this journal can look forward to in the years to come.

The Coming Water Crisis: A Common Concern of Humankind
Edith Brown Weiss
Abstract: This essay argues that fresh water, its availability and use, should now be recognized as ‘a common concern of humankind’, much as climate change was recognized as a ‘common concern of humankind’ in the 1992 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, and conservation of biodiversity was recognized as a ‘common concern of humankind’ in the 1992 Convention on Biological Diversity. This would respond to the many linkages between what happens in one area with the demand for and the supply of fresh water in other areas. It would take into account the scientific characteristics of the hydrological cycle, address the growing commodification of water in the form of transboundary water markets and virtual water transfers through food production and trade, and respect the efforts to identify a human right to water.

Science, Values and People: The Three Factors that Will Define the Next Generation of International Conservation Agreements
Alexander Gillespie
Abstract: This paper is concerned with three emerging issues that define the way in which international conservation law moves forward in the coming decades. The three issues are those related to the use of science to frame regimes; the use of philosophy to examine the values of what is trying to be achieved; and the use of politics to ensure that local communities are linked to conservation efforts. Consideration of each of these three areas is relatively recent, none of them having being at the forefront of conservation considerations of international importance in the past. In the future, this is likely to change.

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Table of Contents Alert: Ecology and Society 16 (2)

See below for some of the articles that was published in the latest edition of Ecology and Society 16 (2): Special Edition: The Energy-Water Nexus: Managing the Links between Energy and Water for a Sustainable Future

The Energy–Water Nexus: Managing the Links between Energy and Water for a Sustainable Future

Karen Hussey and Jamie Pittock

Abstract: Water and energy are each recognized as indispensable inputs to modern economies. And, in recent years, driven by the three imperatives of security of supply, sustainability, and economic efficiency, the energy and water sectors have undergone rapid reform. However, it is when water and energy rely on each other that the most complex challenges are posed for policymakers. Despite the links and the urgency in both sectors for security of supply, in existing policy frameworks, energy and water policies are developed largely in isolation from one another—a degree of policy fragmentation that is seeing erroneous developments in both sectors. Examples of the trade-offs between energy and water security include: the proliferation of desalination plants and interbasin transfers to deal with water scarcity; extensive groundwater pumping for water supplies; first-generation biofuels; the proliferation of hydropower plants; decentralized water supply solutions such as rainwater tanks; and even some forms of modern irrigation techniques. Drawing on case studies from Australia, Europe, and the United States, this Special Issue attempts to develop a comprehensive understanding of the links between energy and water, to identify where better-integrated policy and management strategies and solutions are needed or available, and to understand where barriers exist to achieve that integration. In this paper we draw out some of the themes emerging from the Special Issue, and, particularly, where insights might be valuable for policymakers, practitioners, and scientists across the many relevant domains.

National Climate Change Policies and Sustainable Water Management: Conflicts and Synergies

Jamie Pittock

Abstract: Even in the absence of climate change, freshwater ecosystems and the resources they provide for people are under great pressure because of increasing demand for water and declines in water quality. The imminent onset of climate change will exacerbate these impacts, placing even greater pressure on already stressed resources and regions. A plethora of national climate change policies have been adopted that emphasize structural adjustment in the energy sector and increasing carbon sinks. To date, most public debate on water has focused on the direct impacts of climate change on hydrology. However, there is growing evidence that climate change policies themselves may have substantial additional and negative impacts on freshwater resources and ecosystems and may thus result in maladaptation. To avoid such maladaptation, integrated, coordinated policy making is required. In this paper, national climate change policies from Australia, Brazil, China, the European Union (EU), India, Mexico, South Africa, Tanzania, and the United Kingdom are compared to: (i) identify where negative trade-offs exist between climate change policies and freshwater resources, (ii) analyze where institutions and structures exist to optimize integration among climate, water, and biodiversity policies, and (iii) provide a much needed overview from a broad selection of countries with a view to identifying further opportunities for theoretical exploration and testing. The synergies and conflicts among climate, energy, water, and environmental policies create additional challenges for governments to develop integrated policies to deliver multiple benefits. Success factors for better policy development identified in this assessment and synthesis include engagement of senior political leaders, cyclical policy development, multi-agency and stakeholder processes, and stronger accountability and enforcement measures.

Enhancing the Resilience of the Australian National Electricity Market: Taking a Systems Approach in Policy Development

Barry Newell, Debborah M. Marsh  and Deepak Sharma

Abstract: As the complexity and interconnectedness of present-day social-ecological systems become steadily more apparent, there is increasing pressure on governments, policy makers, and managers to take a systems approach to the challenges facing humanity. However, how can this be done in the face of system complexity and uncertainties? In this paper we briefly discuss practical ways that policy makers can take up the systems challenge. We focus on resilience thinking, and the use of influence diagrams, causal-loop diagrams, and system archetypes. As a case study, set in the context of the climate-energy-water nexus, we use some of these system concepts and tools to carry out an initial exploration of factors that can affect the resilience of the Australian National Electricity Market. We stress the need for the electricity sector to prepare for the impacts of global change by encouraging innovation and diversity, supporting modularity and redundancy, and embracing the need for a policy making approach that takes account of the dynamics of the wider social-ecological system. Finally, taking a longer term view, we conclude by recommending that policy makers work to reduce reliance on conventional market mechanisms, institute continuing cross-sector dialogue, and promote basic education in system dynamics.

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New Report – ‘Green Jobs: An Estimate of the Direct Employment Potential of a Greening South African Economy’

The greening of the South African economy has the potential to create more than 460 000 new direct jobs by 2025, according to the Green Jobs report released earlier today by the IDC, DBSA and TIPS.

Speaking at the launch, Minister of Economic Development, Ebrahim Patel, emphasised the green economy’s importance as a lever to grow local industrial capacity and create sustainable jobs. The greening of an economy can present substantial opportunities for the creation of sustainable employment through the introduction of new activities in the primary, secondary and tertiary sectors. “The experience of several advanced and emerging countries that have been adopting green initiatives point toward an extraordinary opportunity for South Africa as it pursues a job-rich new growth path.”

“As a considerable emitter of greenhouse gases, South Africa faces the challenge of transitioning to a less carbon-intensive growth trajectory without delay. In short, our challenge is to use less carbons and more people in our economic growth. This is what we mean by a new growth path,” remarked Patel.

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Just Released: ‘World Energy Outlook 2010′

The 2010 edition of the World Energy Outlook (WEO) was released on 9 November and it provides updated projections of energy demand, production, trade and investment, fuel by fuel and region by region to 2035. It includes, for the first time, a new scenario that anticipates future actions by governments to meet the commitments they have made to tackle climate change and growing energy insecurity.

WEO-2010 also puts the spotlight on several topical issues, including what more must be done and spent post-Copenhagen to limit the global temperature increase to 2°C and how these actions would impact oil markets; how emerging economies – led by China and India – will increasingly shape the global energy landscape; the costs and benefits of increasing renewable energy, the outlook for Caspian energy markets and their implications for global energy supply, the future role for unconventional oil and the crucial importance of energy in achieving the UN Millennium Development Goals.

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‘Power plan clings to pragmatism over ambition’

Engineering News, 22 October 2010

The draft second integrated resource plan, or IRP2010, is unlikely to receive universal acclaim and even its drafters will acknowledge that errs far more on the side of pragmatism than on perfection.

There will certainly be deep unhappiness in some quarters about the fact that a decision on nuclear has been placed on the “critical path” for early 2011. There will also be disquiet over what can only be perceived as a slower-than-anticipated build-up of renewables, which truly only begins to gain traction from 2016 – the 1 025 MW of immediate renewable capacity outlined in the IRP1 notwithstanding.

No doubt, these anxieties, and more, will be expressed during the upcoming public hearings, which the Department of Energy (DoE) has requested the National Energy Regulator of South Africa to convene.

The DoE confirmed on Friday that the comment period for written submissions on the draft would be extended by 30 days to December 10, 2010 and also announced that the public hearings would begin in Durban on November 26, before moving to Cape Town on November 29, and then to Johannesburg on December 2 and 3.

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‘Increasing demand is the world’s energy dilemma’

Engineering News, 1 October 2010

By 2030, South Africa’s energy demand will have increased 100%. Global 
demand will increase 47%, and 70% of this demand will come from new and 
developing countries, including South Africa. 
In 20 years, 20% of global demand will come from China, reports local photovoltaic 
(PV) panel manufacturer Solaire Direct.

Solutions for renewable energy include PV power plants, PV buildings, wind power plants and PV homes, says Solaire Direct Southern Africa MD Ryan Hammond. The company is a vertically integrated power producer providing a turnkey solar power generation service .

He says: “We need twice the amount of 
energy to meet demand, but the planet needs us to halve carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions to avoid dramatic climate change. Key to dealing with this issue is energy management and cleaner energy.” Proven solar PV power technology, which is flexible and has minimal
impact, is part of the solution.

By 2013, South Africans will be paying 
R1/kWh for electricity. Meanwhile, the 
average price of PV modules has halved since 2008.

Currently, the average yearly solar resource available across most of Southern Africa 
averages 2 000 kWh/m2. 
The possible load factor for a solar PV 
installation in this part of the world is 25% to 30%, with a 90% supply predictability.

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‘World Energy Outlook 2010 Special Early Excerpt – Energy Poverty: How to make modern energy access universal (September 2010)’

The World Energy Outlook will be released on 9 November 2010. A special early excerpt of the upcoming report was released last week.  In this excerpt of the upcoming World Energy Outlook report, released specially for the United Nations summit on the Millennium Development Goals, the International Energy Agency states that the goals set to eradicate poverty can never be fully realised without confronting the fact that there are billions of people without access to electricity. This report estimates that investment of $36-billion a year is required in order to ensure that every person benefits from access to electricity and clean cooking facilities.

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‘Western Cape nature reserve installs solar power’

Engineering News, 23 September 2010

Gecko Rock eco adventure nature reserve, near Touws River in the Western Cape, has installed a 1,6 kW solar photovoltaic (PV) array to supply power for a residence on the property and a conference and training facility.

The off-grid renewable energy system, with 8 kWh of average daily solar production, was installed for about the same cost that it would have taken to extend the electricity grid to this point of the property.

Following the initial capital outlay of about R140 000, the running costs are minimal, and no monthly electrical bills are received.

The array comprises one ‘string’ of three panels with three Tenesol PV modules in each panel, generating a total of 1 620 W. The panels are mounted on dual-axis manual trackers and receive about five hours of peak sun a day, on average.

The Tenesol PV modules are manufactured at the company’s facility in Cape Town.

The installation team consisted of My Power Station director and team leader David Lipschitz responsible for sales and design, with welding, dual axis trackers and metal work by Intricate Steel director Steven Mulder, and electrical design by SolarSells director Peter Burden. Continue reading

‘IEA says $36bn/yr to eradicate energy poverty’

Engineering News, 22 September 2010

It would cost $36-billion per year to enable the world’s one-billion energy-starved people to access energy supplies at home by 2030, the International Energy Agency (IEA) said on Tuesday.

The IEA said in an excerpt of its 2010 World Energy Outlook that some 1,2-billion people, equivalent to China’s population, would still have no electricity by 2030 if governments made no change to existing policies, down from 1,4-billion currently.

The $36 billion per year only represented 3% of global energy investments projected by the agency to 2030.

“This is peanuts compared to other investments which are made,” Fatih Birol, chief economist at the IEA, said in an interview.

In Nigeria for instance, Africa’s top oil producer, where half the 152-million population has no access to electricity supplies, it would cost the country 0.4 percent of its oil and gas revenues to fix the situation, Birol said.

Achieving universal access to energy supplies would only boost oil demand by less than 1% and carbon dioxide emissions by 0,8%, Birol said, adding this was because most people who lack access to electricity live in rural areas.

“Since they are not connected to the cities, in most cases decentralised systems such as wind, mini-hydro or solar, will be used,” Birol added.

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