‘The Great Energy Transformation: Why We Can’t Avoid a Low-Carbon Economy’

Polity News, 7 December 2010

This report, by Heinrich Böll Siftung Southern Africa, says that the failure to reach a global deal in Copenhagen may be music to the skeptics’ ears. For them, it is the death of the carbon-constrained world as they see it.

The failure of global collective action may mark a certain departure point: the idea that a low-carbon economy idea or transition, as concept and action, is incapable of staying alive. This is no nearer to the truth than saying that the earth is flat.

What may be a failure globally looks very different from what is happening within the national context. Practically speaking, most of the developed and emerging economies are having to grapple with the idea of a low-carbon economy in one way or the other.

It is an ‘inconvenient truth’ staring them in the face.

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A New Report – ‘Energy Efficiency: Accelerating the Agenda Report 2010’

Polity News, 7 December 2010

The World Economic Forum, in partnership with Accenture, is pleased to release Energy Efficiency: Accelerating the Agenda. The work builds on the January 2010 publication, A New Energy Vision: Towards a More Efficient World, developed in collaboration with IHS CERA, which explored the key drivers and barriers behind energy efficiency and seeks to address why energy efficiency has not been more successful in scaling.

Energy efficiency is about doing more with what we have. It thus touches on every industry sector and has huge potential to contribute to energy savings and a reduction in carbon emissions. This potential is well-documented from the release of McKinsey’s abatement curve to the efforts by the International Energy Agency (IEA) and other international organizations, and yet it continues to be raised as a critical issue to address. This is because despite the potential there is a substantial gap, and energy efficiency measures are still not being implemented at scale, indicating a significant opportunity is being missed. The reasons behind this range from market to institutional failures and the need to be overcome if we are to use energy efficiency to effectively meet rising energy demand, support economic development and meet the critical challenges of climate change, energy security and economic competitiveness.

This study seeks to accelerate the agenda and identify the barriers holding implementation back by looking at the roles of stakeholders and how they can work together to create multistakeholder solutions to bridge the gap. Through this work the Forum hopes to reveal stakeholder perspectives and enable a starting point for increased dialogue and cooperation throughout 2011 and beyond.

The Forum has worked closely with the Mexican Government in 2010 ahead of the United Nations Conference of Parties (COP16) in Cancun in December 2010 to give due attention to energy efficiency and hopes to continue this cooperation with the Mexican and other governments, including South Africa throughout 2011 and ahead of COP17 in South Africa at the end of 2011, to monitor progress and demonstrate early results. This continued focus, multi stakeholder dialogue and increased cooperation will be critical to accelerating the agenda.

In the study, the Forum proposes three initiatives which we believe will accelerate the agenda in 2011 and beyond. We trust that these initiatives provide useful input and invite governments, organizations and private sector players to build these initiatives, with our support.

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‘ICT can play key role in reducing emissions’

Engineering News, 7 December 2010

The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and the Global e-Sustainability Initiative (GeSI) emphasised that information and communication technologies (ICTs) were vital in assisting with the reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, as well as adapting to climate change and its effects.

In the report ‘Using ICTs to tackle climate change’ the two organisations highlighted that this could be done in three main ways.

Firstly, by the ICT sector reducing its own emissions, secondly, by cutting emissions and raising energy efficiency in other sectors through use of ICT, and thirdly, by using ICT-based systems to monitor weather and the environment, as well as to swiftly transmit data, analysis and alerts.

“ICTs are powerful tools for reducing emissions in every other sector. They also play an essential role in climate science. And because of this major role, they offer one of the most significant opportunities to reduce GHG emissions, especially in those industries that are among the highest producers of carbon dioxide, such as energy generation, waste disposal, construction and transport,” commented ITU secretary-general Hamadoun Touré.

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‘Tough UN climate talks move into decisive week’

U.N. climate talks moved into their decisive week Monday with the agenda dominated by future cuts in carbon emissions and keeping countries honest about their actions to control global warming.

Government ministers arrived in force to begin applying political muscle to negotiations that in the past week have narrowed some disputes, but which are likely to leave the toughest decisions for the final hours of the 193-nation conference on Friday.

Delegates were feeling pressure to produce at least a modest agreement from the two-week U.N. meeting to restore credibility to the talks after the last summit in Copenhagen failed to agree on any binding action to rein in emissions of global-warming gases.

“We cannot leave Cancun empty-handed,” warned Connie Hedegaard, the European Union’s top climate official.

The conference seeks decisions on establishing a “green fund” to help poorer nations rein in greenhouse gases and to adapt their economies and infrastructure to a changing climate; an agreement making it easier for developing nations to obtain patented green technology from advanced nations; and pinning down more elements of a system for compensating developing countries for protecting their forests.

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‘SA seeks to mainstream climate change response, but obligations remain fuzzy’

Engineering News, 3 December 2010

As the world settles into another yearly round of global climate change nego- tiations in Cancún, Mexico – without much hope for a legally binding deal emerging – South Africa has taken an important climate change step with the release of the National Climate Change Response Green Paper by Water and Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa.

The Green Paper is a draft of the country’s climate change policy and subject to a public comment phase. Molewa has stated that the final climate change White Paper is expected by mid-2011. This would then inform the country’s climate change policy, and the department has indicated that it would have a legislative, regulatory and fiscal package dealing with climate change by 2012.

The long-awaited Green Paper was at first scheduled to be released in 2009, before the fifteenth Conference of the Parties, which took place in Copenhagen, Denmark, in December 2009. It follows the National Climate Change Response Strategy for South Africa, which was released in 2004.

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‘Sexwale doesn’t grasp constitution – NGOs’

Human Settlements Minister Tokyo Sexwale misunderstood the Constitution and the reasons that poor people crowded into shack settlements and inner city buildings, rights organisations said on Friday.

“Poor people will continue to move to urban centres in search of jobs, whether or not courts defend their rights,” the organisations said in a statement.

“It would be better if the government acknowledged this reality and saw this as an opportunity for economic development and growth, which would be part of its development of an appropriate urban housing framework.”

The organisations are the Socio-Economic Rights Institute of South Africa, Section 27, the Legal Resources Centre, Lawyers for Human Rights, the Community Law Centre, and the Centre for Applied Legal Studies.

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Just Released: ‘African Earth Observatory Network report series No 2’

A critical assessment of South Africa’s future water balance paints a picture of a bleak future characterised by severe water shortages. The country’s economic hubs and three main urban areas, Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban, will be the most severely affected, with predicted water demand exceeding availability by a factor of about two by 2025.

The African Earth Observatory Network report series No 2 demonstrates that consideration of climate change and water quality deterioration, both currently excluded from models used to forecast South Africa’s official water outlook scenarios, predicts water shortages of 19 to 33% of requirements for the country as a whole by 2025, significantly larger than official estimates of 2 to 13% shortages by 2025. An estimated R360 billion, or about 15% of South Africa’s present GDP, is needed within the next 15 years to secure South Africa’s water future, primarily for maintaining and increasing water treatment plant capacity.

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