This is the second Sustainable Energy Watch report for South Africa. Estimates have been developed for all eight indicators, and 1990 or similar benchmarks are also included for six of the indicators. For each of these indicators, the value of 1 is either the global average or the historical trend for South Africa, while the value of 0 is the sustainability target.
South Africa is the closest to the sustainability target on the indicators for access to electricity (0.34) and resilience to external impacts (energy exports) (0.08). The former reflects the success of the ambitious mass electrification programme, which has been a key social and economic goal for the democratic government. Government commitment to continue this programme, and provide substantial funding for it, bodes well for continued improvement in this indicator.
The low value for resilience to external impacts (energy exports) may be somewhat misleading. While it is true that South Africa is not as vulnerable to international energy markets as the OPEC countries, there is significant concern in the country about how the implementation of the Kyoto Protocol will affect the coal industry, and the 61 000 workers that it employs . The DME, for example, commissioned its first ever major climate change research in early 2001 - and the top priority is to analyse impacts of the Kyoto Protocol on coal markets. A report from the International Energy Agency suggests that South Africa may be the most vulnerable fossil fuel-exporting country in the world to the impacts of the Kyoto Protocol . South Africa will have to drop well below 0.09 on this indicator, therefore, before it is less vulnerable to external impacts.
South Africa performs worst on the indicators for carbon emissions per capita (2.35) and energy intensity (2.21). The reasons for the energy and emissions intensity of the economy are described in more detail in the body of this paper, and include heavy reliance on energy-intensive industries for domestic economic production and export, high dependence on coal for primary energy, higher energy-intensity of synthetic petrol made from coal, low energy prices and poor energy efficiency of individual sectors. Continued high energy-intensity is potentially a competitive disadvantage for the South African economy. The National Economic Development and Labour Council, for example, a powerful triparite commission comprising representatives from government, industry and labour, has recently commissioned work to look at impact of the Kyoto Protocol on manufacturing in South Africa (as opposed to the coal industry), which focuses on the risk to energy- and emissions-intensive sectors.
High carbon emissions intensity makes South Africa increasingly vulnerable to pressure to take on some kind of commitment within United Nations climate change negotiations process. Although South Africa is still classified as a developing, or 'non-Annex I' country, its emissions per capita and per unit of GDP are considerably higher than most developing countries. On the other hand, this carbon emissions intensity makes South Africa an attractive candidate for Clean Development Mechanism international investment projects, which could help to move the country onto a lower emissions intensity path.
Note: The Clean Development Mechanism under the Kyoto Protocol to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change allows industrialised countries to invest in project in developing countries that reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and claim part of the credit for these reductions against the industrialised countries' emissions limitation targets.
Nevertheless, government policy is urgently needed to address carbon emissions intensity in way that also promotes development - for example, through stimulating large-scale investment in cost-effective energy efficiency and diversifying South Africa's energy mix.
Investment in clean energy is only beginning in South Africa, so this indicator is also still quite high (0.99). As discussed in this paper, there are positive signs of both pubic and private sector commitment to increase investment in renewable energy and energy efficiency. The challenge is to maintain these goals through the restructuring of the energy industry - particularly the electricity industry - so that restructuring does not spell the end of clean energy. The indicator for renewable energy deployment (1.04) also reflects the long road ahead for South Africa in developing renewable energy sources - and challenge to move beyond seeing these only as solutions to remote area energy problems.
Finally, while the indicator for local pollution remains high (0.85), the significant improvement since 1990 is encouraging. More research will be needed, however, to make this indicator accurately reflect the national progress on local air pollution, rather than progress in only one location.
In summary, the political commitments of the post-apartheid South African government recognise the importance of equity in access to affordable energy. Progress in this important area of sustainability is a major accomplishment. The new South Africa, however, is full of legacies from the old - including the energy-intensive economic structure and reliance on abundant domestic coal - and in some cases current policies are reinforcing these legacies. This poses a major challenge to policy makers, industry, and civil society. New policy documents recognise the importance of these issues, but progress 'on the ground' has been slow, and there are, at the same time, conflicting policies that push South Africa away from sustainability. Our hope is that these indicators, and the discussion of their implications, will provide an useful starting point for stakeholders to debate South Africa's future, and how co-ordinated policy and concrete action can create a more sustainable energy sector that supports the development and welfare of all South Africans.
The Eight Indicators of Energy Sustainability for South Africa
|1. Carbon emissions||2205||2.36 ||2194||2.35 ||-1%||-1%|
|2. Particulate concentrations*||180||1.00 ||150||0.85 ||-17%||-15%|
|3. Access to electricity**||35%||0.65 ||66%||0.34 ||89%||-48%|
|4. Clean energy investment***||Nil||Nil||0.54%||0.99||-||-|
|5. Energy trade - exports***||10.5%||0.11 ||8.2%||0.08 ||-22%||-20%|
|6. Burden of energy*** investments||-||-||0.52%||0.05||-||-|
|7. Energy intensity (PPP)****||20.70 ||2.05 ||22.23 ||2.21 ||7%||8%|
|8. Renewable energy****||5.1%||1.05||5.7%||1.04 ||12%||-1%|
* 1992 and 1999 ** 2001 *** 1994 and 2000 ****1994 and 1999
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