SA scores badly in WEF’s Energy Transition Index
JOHANNESBURG - SOUTH Africa was ranked 110 out of 115 countries in the World Economic Forum’s Energy Transition Index (ETI) published this week reflecting the slow progress towards a sustainable and affordable energy system.
The 2021 edition of the report, titled Fostering Effective Energy Transition, ranked 115 countries according to their readiness for a just transition based on economic development and growth, energy security as well as environmental sustainability.
The term just transition is commonly defined as the move towards an environmentally sustainable economy while contributing to the goals of decent work for all, social inclusion and the eradication of poverty.
South Africa was placed at the bottom of the pile ahead of Venezuela, Lebanon, Mongolia, Haiti and neighbouring Zimbabwe, which is ranked 115.
“South Africa’s new goal for net zero by 2050 is backed by a strategy to cut coal-fired power supply from around 90 percent now to 46 percent by 2030 and 30 percent by 2050, while boosting wind, solar and hydro. This falls short of the Paris goals, but the ambition – set against a serious economic battering from high Covid-19 rates – is laudable,” said the report.
South Africa’s greenhouse gas emissions is 1.1 percent of the global emissions, whereas the country’s share of global gross domestic product (GDP) was only 0.6 percent, according to a University of Cape Town study done in 2017.
The report said challenges remained despite South Africa’s scores on the environmental sustainability score improving due to the reduction of energy intensity of the GDP.
“Share of coal in electricity, and carbon intensity of the energy mix remain high in South Africa, highlighting the need to accelerate efforts to decarbonise the energy mix, through measures such as energy efficiency, expansion of renewable resources, electrification, as well as use of carbon capture technologies,” said the report.
Currently the energy sector is responsible for almost 80 percent of South Africa’s greenhouse gas emissions. In an effort to reach net zero emissions by 2050, the government introduced the Integrated Resources Plan 2019 (IRP2019), South Africa’s energy blueprint, which promotes a diversified energy mix, which includes coal, renewables and nuclear.
However, the country will still rely mainly on coal, according to the plan, which states that old coal plants will gradually be retired, with 10 500 megawatts expected to be decommissioned by 2030
Sweden led the rankings followed by Norway, Denmark and Switzerland. Among the world’s top economies, only the US and Italy featured in the top 10 ranked countries while China was ranked at 68.
The top 10 countries account for only around 3 percent of energy-related CO2 emissions and around 2 percent of the global population.
“The list of top performers in the ETI has stayed broadly consistent over the course of the decade. Although each country’s energy transition pathway is different, they all share common attributes,” said the report.