Enoch Godongwana Should Not Be Smiling

Finance minister Enoch Godongwana’s smile as he inks the deal with US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen making South Africa the first country in the world to accept transitioning to what is called “Just Energy,” is misplaced (Business Report, January 27).

Committing South Africa to net-zero carbon emissions reduction by 2050 is pie in the sky for several reasons. First of all, it is based on the falsehood that fossil fuels cause global warming. There is no scientific evidence of that because temperatures have been constant for more than 60 years. In any case, two warmer periods occurred in the past 2,000 years when fossil fuels were unknown.

The second reason Godongwana should not be smiling is that coal-rich South Africa provides 92,000 jobs directly in coal mining and tens of thousands of other forms of employment in the petrochemical industry. By systematically cancelling those jobs, Godongwana would not only exacerbate unemployment but would shrink the tax base. As Finance minister, one would have expected him to bristle at that prospect.

The third reason is that solar and wind-generated power is not only unreliable but extremely costly to erect and maintain. Germany’s headlong lurch into renewables at the expense of closing coal and nuclear power stations has seen a 1,000% increase in electricity costs despite the inadequacy and unreliability of renewables.

Fourth, by committing South Africa to R146 billion in foreign funding for this hare-brained energy transition, Godongwana is simply piling on debt and in the process allowing the EU and the US to extend their influence in determining policy in South Africa.

It is a no-brainer to believe that South Africa’s ANC-inflicted energy crisis can be resolved by decarbonisation and transition to so-called renewables. The fact that even Gwede Mantashe, who has resisted this madness, now agrees to transition from high to low carbon, can mean only one thing: how much of the R146 billion goes into ANC pockets?

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