According to energy experts, South Africa’s continued investment in fossil fuels will continue to damage the environment. Picture: Petr David Josek/AP
Cape Town - According to energy experts, South Africa’s continued investment in fossil fuels will continue to damage the environment.

Mayco member for energy and climate change Phindile Maxiti said: “Energy-reliant sectors such as transport and the built environment are the largest contributors to global warming through the emission of damaging greenhouse gases from the burning of fossil fuels. It is the obligation of all municipalities to demand an intensive intervention from the national government to move away from heavy fossil-fuel reliance.”

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He said of citizens should make their voices heard. The City of Cape Town had already disinvested fossil fuel-related holdings in the market.

Mark Swilling, a sustainable development professor at Stellenbosch University and co-director of the Centre for Complex Systems in Transition, said: “The fossil fuel industry receives $5.2 trillion (R75trn) from governments globally. The industrial economy was built on fossil fuels and since 2004, the price of renewable energy has dropped by 90%.”

Swilling said it was government policy for investments to be made towards the cheapest type of energy available. The standard fee for renewable energy is 60 cents per kilowatt hour and coal is R1.30 per kilowatt hour. “The reason for corporates and government to stay in nuclear and coal energy wouldn’t be for profit only but for other special interests such as protecting the coal industry and trade unions,” he said.

Wikus van Niekerk, the dean of engineering at Stellenbosch University, said: “Decisions in the fossil fuel industry are driven by the economy and it would cost a lot of money to make the shift towards renewable energy.

“Many people are more concerned about the current state of society rather than the future. The moment people are told to make changes to their behaviours, then they naturally resist this change,” he said.

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