‘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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‘The Impact of Climate Change on Africa’

This paper is concerned with the fact that African nations are among the lightest polluters, but analysts say they will suffer the most from climate change in their pursuit of water and food security, sustainable development, and political and economic sustainability. Therefore, the paper reviews the relationships among climate change, water and food security, conflicts, and development. It also argues that there is a need for climate change information in Africa and reviews the status of international climate agreements related to adaptation, mitigation and compensation. In addition, the paper argues that even if climate change by its nature may not necessarily lead to violent inter-state conflicts, scarcity of water and food in Africa has, however, already nurtured political tensions among nations, thus retarding efforts towards sustainable development.

Full Citation: Tadesse, D. (2010). The Impact of Climate Change on Africa, ISS Paper 220, Institute of Security Studies: Pretoria.

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A New Report: ‘The State of African Cities 2010: Governance, Inequalities and Urban Land Markets’

The State of the African Cities 2010 goes above and beyond the first report, which provided a general overview of housing and urban management issues in Africa. With the subtitle: Governance, inequity and urban land markets, the report uncovers critical urban issues and challenges in African cities, using social and urban geography as the overall entry points. While examining poverty, slum incidence and governance, the report sheds more light on inequity in African cities, and in this respect follows the main theme of the global State of the World’s Cities 2010 report. Through a regional analysis, the report delves deeper into the main urban challenges facing African cities, while provoking dialogue and discussion on the role of African cities in improving national, regional and local economies through sustainable and equitable development. The report has been drafted in cooperation with Urban Land Mark. Through an analytical survey of several African cities, the report examines urban growth, social conditions in slums, environmental and energy issues and, especially, the role of urban land markets in accessing land and housing.

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‘IRP2010’s plans for renewable capacity ‘ambitious’ – energy economist’

Engineering News, 2 December 2010

The large renewable capacity indicated in the balanced and low-carbon scenarios of the second Integrated Resource Plan or IRP2010, might be somewhat “ambitious”, energy economist Jean-Pierre Favennec said on Thursday.

The balanced plan proposes that 3 800 MW of wind energy be introduced into South Africa’s power generation system by 2019.

It further proposes that an additional 7 200 MW of renewable energies (wind, solar, landfill and biomass) be brought on stream between 2020 and 2030.

“While South Africa needs to diversify its energy source away from coal, these are very big capacities, which would require large sums of money and technical skills. Such challenges could prove significant in the implementation of such a plan.

“South Africa has uranium, wind and sun, so it should make use of these resources, but the targets may be a little ambitious in such a short time,” Favennec said at a French Energy breakfast in Johannesburg.

However, he emphasised that the plan was a step in the right direction, and that the implementation of any one of the three scenarios would require an investment of about R100-billion.

The IRP2010 balanced scenario indicates that South Africa would need between 41 346 MW of new electricity capacity by 2030, assuming a growth trajectory of 4,5% over the next 20 years.

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