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SA's Green Economy Accord

by Michelle Simon 30 Nov 2011
SA's Green Economy Accord

Green Jobs and Work via Shutterstock

At Day 2 of COP 17, South Africa launched it's master-plan for green jobs, merging the green agenda with the red (socio-economic); the Green Economy Accord (GEA) has an ambitious but welcomed target of just over a quarter of a million new jobs, green jobs in a green energy manufactoring sector from energy production to green productsto green-agri-business with the aim to reduce carbon emissions. In addition the GEA wishes to address soil, environmental management and eco-tourism.

The GEA targets as follows:

- 1 million solar water-heating systems in SA by 2014.

- Expanded production on clean stoves not just for SA but the entire African continent.

- Biofuels industry support - includes support to small farmers.

- Mass transit overhaul with a freight shift from road to rail.

- Financial mechanisms support for green projects.

- Youth upliftment with a bold target of 80% of new job allocations to young workers.

- Environmental education programme support at school level.

- Govt will procure 3 725 MW of renewable energy for the national grid by 2016.

- Solar and Wind Energy sub-sectors aim to create 50 000 green jobs by 2020.

- Solar powered generation units at a total of 300 000 to be installed on the roof-tops of residential, commercial and industrial buildings by 2020.

- 25 billion ZAR over 5 years is being committed by the state-owned Industrial Development Corporation for investments in the Green Economy.

- Business to commit to environmental performance of existing production facilities. "It will develop benchmarks for energy efficiency by industry as well as company management plans (SA Govt, 2011)."

- The implementation of the SA National Energy Efficiency Strategy with targets for reducing energy intensity targets by:

* 10% reduction - commercial + public buildings.

* 15% - residential

* 10% - transport

* 15% - mining

* 15% - industry

- GEA expands with ground-level changes at factory-level with organised labour playing a role in energy efficiency activity and monitoring.

- GEA includes the objective of a mass-transport reformation to reduce the private vehicle usage with an investment of 20 billion ZAR by the SA rail company by 2014. 63 billion ZAR is being committed by the parastatal TransNet to overhaul the freight rail system over the next 5 years.

It sounds really progressive but while I read this I can't help thinking about what is really happening on the ground. Two new mass production coal-fired power stations, utilising raw-materials by another huge carbon outputer, the mining sector; toxic nuclear industry, the proposed fracking of gas in the pristine groundwater of the Karoo, years of human rights protests post-apartheid on the lack of service delivery and then the huge cut-offs of electricity and water, human rights supplies to the poorest of the poor, the huge financial disempowerec of the poor with cost-recovery processes on human rights water and energy. One can't simple ignore the ground-truth just because one is totally uplifted by ambitious paper-targets that will take us into a new era of energy efficiency.

But really what does this mean - that the new coal-fired energy and toxic industry from raw materials to waste will be OFFSET by the the GEA? So does offsetting mean that if one emits toxic gases taht cause untold human health and environmental degradation that is irreparable that one can be energy efficient and all is well?

Really I can't turn a blind eye to the obvious inference or direct statement that industry aka the polluters will set benchmarks and have we not experienced industrial self-regulation to our detriment - one can not self-regulate one owns polluting behaviour? I would love to issue myself with traffic fines but then I don't think I'd ever be that harsh on myself?

Does this mean that the state method of squeezing 'blood from a stone', in the form of forced evictions, water and electricity cuts will finally come to a halt? Will the crimininalisation of legitimate people's protest on the non-delivery of the freedom charter also come to a halt?

I think the GEA is a wonderful commitment if all the other parallel discrepancies are addressed at the same time.

Once again 'Action Speaks Louder than Words!' 'Phansi (Down) with Fronting Phansi!'

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