Cop28, an island of luxury, asking communities to forgo coal incomes

The opposition to ending coal and closing power stations will result in long-winded delays in implementing decommissioning plans.

The opposition to ending coal and closing power stations will result in long-winded delays in implementing decommissioning plans.

Published Dec 6, 2023


The UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, when meeting President Cyril Ramaphosa, was quick to point out that the UN was so pleased that out of all the countries in the world, SA was the only country that had submitted a plan to the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change to end the use of coal and fossils fuels.

The plans entail closing down half the coal-based power stations initially, starting with 12 000 megawatts and, eventually, all the coal power stations in SA, and repurposing the land for various alternative renewable energy projects.

What the UN doesn’t know is that SA is great at making plans and promises but bad in implementing them.

The government is under heavy pressure from all sectors of society who are up in arms about the planned shutdown of coal-fired power stations.

The people are angry because the economy and most small towns in the eastern part of South Africa are centred on and dependent on coal mining and minerals.

The associated challenges that arise from closing the mining towns have far-reaching implications and a direct effect on people, business and communities.

The opposition to shutting power plants is because of the economic hardship caused by ending coal, and the paralysis effects it is having on communities and the overall contribution to poor economic performance.

Any plans to end the use of coal and fossil fuels, closing power stations and fast-tracking the decommissioning of power plants is, for now, a giant pipe dream.

The government can go ahead and make all the commitments, but the reality on the ground is the opposite.

Yes, the president will make all the commitments to international institutions to end the use of coal but if the people on the ground, especially the communities affected and pressure from the workers unions, civil society organisations and business, oppose the plans, how would the government successfully implement them?

The energy crisis has caused enough financial and economic hardship and any plans to further stall, sink and collapse the economy will be opposed by communities, and business across all sectors.

The opposition to ending coal and closing power stations will result in long-winded delays in implementing decommissioning plans.

Why is SA making such callous transition commitments, knowing full well the economic and energy crisis facing the country.

All the European countries calling for the reduction in use of fossil fuels are doing the opposite. Europe, in particular Germany and neighbouring countries, have, in the past two years, increased their use of coal and other fossil fuels in their generation of electricity.

The sheer hypocrisy demonstrated by the Western countries in shoving down the agenda to end the use of fossil fuels, while Europe and developed countries are increasing their use of coal and fossils fuels, shows how disingenuous global leaders are in their race to further extend the colonisation of Africa, through imposing energy-generation restrictions on African countries.

Even after fierce opposition to the decommissioning of Komati power station, the South Africa delegation, led by Ramaphosa, went ahead and pledged and committed to ending the use of fossil fuels, at the UN COP28 climate conference in Dubai.

Former president Thabo Mbeki, in an interview with RT, touched briefly on the responsibilities of a democratic elected government role.

The ruling party says it leads a government by the people and for the people. Meaning that all decision making within the government must be informed by what most people want to see done on the ground. And not a government that exists to fulfil the needs of the few elites in society who dictate to the state behind the scenes.

Climate activists hypocrisy

More than 1 000 private jets landed in Dubai, and an estimated 80 000 delegates flew in person to attend the 2023 COP28 UAE Climate Conference to discuss ways in which the world could reduce carbon emissions.

It is rather odd that so many people could rush to Dubai to attend a conference on how to reduce global carbon footprint and yet all of them didn’t care about their own carbon footprint contribution when they flew there.

The hypocrisy is becoming more and more evident. Bold statements are made on reduction of carbon emissions and how funding will be made available to mitigate and fund new innovation to fight the climate crisis and reduce carbon emissions.

But little is delivered, except for big pledges and commitments that never materialise.

The Western and developed countries are hypocritical in their climate quest.

All the events at the conference are not short on spending, on top of the range of glitz and glamour and hobnobbing events with big-spend tickets. There is nothing that reflects the commitment to reducing emissions and ending the use of fossil fuels.

They fly in like celebrities in jets, first-class and business-class tickets to the events. They are all chauffeured in style and stay at luxurious hotels. There is an endless supply of anything they desire.

Oh, the parties are like nothing you’ve ever seen. At those parties, you are transported back to the days when the Roman Empire was at its height of world domination, the days when parties were hosted by the Roman emperors themselves.

While, in the same tone, everyone goes around parading in hallways and conference rooms, arguing and fighting hard on how to reduce carbon emission and mitigate against climate crisis.

The activists at the event are all high on climate this and that and virtue, tongue lashing everyone about how irresponsible the world is on the use of fossil fuels. While enjoying everything of the finest at COP28 Dubai event.

On one hand, the world is told to reduce its contribution in carbon emissions. And on the other hand, in one day at a COP28 event, those gathered there generated more carbon emissions than anyone around in a day. This is the hypocrisy we talk about.

Yet the core theme of the COP28 conference is centred on climate emergency and the need to end the use of fossil fuels and increase the use of labelled renewable energy sources.

Of course, the event prides itself on providing an opportunity to discover innovative climate friendly food, beverages and technology for a limited time at COP28.

The event prides itself on giving participants the opportunity to find new ways and technologies to reduce emissions and live in a clean, emissions-free environment.

I have provided a summary speech synopsis of the COP28 Presidency Press Conference statement made in Dubai by Dr Al Jaber:

“We’re all here because we made a very clear call to action, 43% of global emissions must be reduced by 2030. That is 22 gigatons by 2030 and we need to make that happen to keep 1.5 within reach.

“And I have been crystal clear on the fact that that is a critical success factor if we want to keep 1.5 (degrees celcius) within reach.

“In the first four days, I believe we have already set a high bar for delivery and there is a real sense of momentum, traction, positivity and excitement. This is our opportunity to deliver a real, tangible paradigm shift that will course-correct and put us on the right track of keeping 1.5 within reach.

“We also brought together the US and China in an unprecedented commitment to an economy-wide reduction of methane and other non-CO2 gasses.

“These gasses are over 80 times more damaging than CO2. Tackling methane will have a massive near-term impact on keeping 1.5 within reach, and that’s why I am putting it at the top of my agenda.

“In fact, it has been one of my top priorities as the COP Presidency, and we made it a very high and top priority for everyone. And that’s why we were able to make progress.

“I am pleased to say that we have also mobilised over $57 billion in new pledges and commitments only in the first four days: $30bn in a new custom-tailored UAE catalytic fund that is 100% focused on solutions and bridging gaps to climate change; $725 million for Loss and Damage; $9bn annually announced by the World Bank; over $3bn for the Green Climate Fund; $2.7bn for health; $2.6bn for nature; $1.2bn for relief, recovery, and peace; $2.5bn for renewable energy; and $1.2bn for methane reduction.

“On top of that, parties have rallied around a number of pledges and declarations that get the world moving in the right direction.

“Eight new declarations have been announced, and these declarations are designed to help transform every major sector of the global economy.

“The Global Decarbonization Accelerator, bringing together more countries and more companies around net zero than ever before. At the same time, 55 zero oil companies, oil and gas companies are aiming for zero methane emissions by 2030 and net zero by 2050.

“This is the first time ever. Plus, a global pledge to deliver new energy and energy efficiency. And I am especially proud that we have delivered the first ever declarations on health and food systems.

“These have been two massive priorities for our COP Presidency agenda. Three additional declarations will be announced in the next few days on hydrogen, cooling, and gender.”

Crown Prince Adil Nchabeleng is president of Transform RSA and an independent energy expert. The views in this column are independent of Business Report and Independent Media.