South Africa’s Energy Minister: South Africa Must Drive Green Energy Transition

In a turn of events that almost no one could have predicted, with international oil prices climbing and facing an energy dilemma, South Africa’s energy minister said the country must balance the need to cut emissions with the need to increase power supply and develop natural resources. In a televised address in Johannesburg on Friday, South Africa’s Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy, Gwede Mantashe, said, We cannot just focus on decarbonization. We must address energy poverty.

South Africa’s transition from reliance on coal to cleaner energy is a huge undertaking that includes changing important aspects of society centered on the extraction of the dirtiest fossil fuels.Mantashe’s stance complicates the implementation of an $8.5 billion commitment by wealthy nations to help South Africa move to green energy.

Mantashe, a former South African miner and union leader, has previously said he has no problem with being identified as a coal fundamentalist, having overseen a go-go program aimed at boosting renewable energy generation. He said South Africans must not allow themselves to be surrounded by developed countries that fund lobbyists to put our country’s development needs at odds with their own environmental protections. Our country deserves the opportunity to transform itself at the pace and scale decided by its citizens.

Mantashe said the country has many offshore oil and gas prospects, as evidenced by recent discoveries in neighboring Namibia, but environmental groups have blocked searches for these resources. “Every time we touch it, we go to court. Touch it and go to court.” He said environmental concerns should be balanced with development.

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