South Africa’s energy minister wants to fight for coal

Coal-powered electricity generation should continue to be part of the South African energy mix, Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe said Tuesday, noting that he would go to court if necessary to keep a plan for new coal-fired power plants alive.

“I know that we will end up in court for this,” said Mantashe on Tuesday at the Africa Energy Week conference in Cape Town, as reported by Bloomberg.

In South Africa – a major coal producer, exporter and consumer – debates have heated up over whether the dirtiest fossil fuel should remain a pillar of its energy supply, especially given the climate pressure on countries to turn away from coal.

Mantashe, a former coal unionist, says South Africa’s Integrated Resource Plan includes and should be maintained plans to build 1.5 gigawatts (GW) of new coal-fired power plant capacity.

Coal is currently by far the most important energy source in South Africa, accounting for around 80 percent of the country’s energy mix. The country is also the fifth largest coal exporter in the world.

Earlier this year, representatives from the United States, the European Union, Britain, France and Germany met with some of South Africa’s top government officials – but not Minister Mantashe – to discuss a possible climate deal and ways to fund Africa’s move away from coal.

Earlier this month, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that France, Germany, the UK, the US and the EU would support a just transition and move away from coal by raising an initial US $ 8.5 billion over the next three to five years. Dollars mobilize tools, including grants and concessional funding.

South African Environment Minister Barbara Creecy told Daily Maverick this week that South Africa has not signed the COP26 coal commitment by 40 countries to phase out coal.

“What will happen is that the country will end up with assets stranded. And we know that with every transition there are winners and losers. The losers are rarely owners, usually the workers and the communities, ”Creecy said.

By Charles Kennedy for

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