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So. Africa: A green economy can help the country recover from the crisis & deliver high-quality sustainable jobs, urges British high commissioner to SA

‘How renewables can help SA’s economy recover from Covid’ 21 September

At the beginning of 2020, which now seems an age away, we were looking forward to Cop26, the crucial summit of world leaders that we were due to host in Glasgow in November to address our common climate emergency. Then Covid-19 crashed uninvited into all our lives. It has had a profound effect on all of us, as individuals and as families, and on our economies and societies. One consequence was a collective decision to delay the Cop26 summit by 12 months, to November 2021. The reason for delaying wasn’t because the summit had become less important. On the contrary, the science makes clear that the need for action is more urgent than ever.

…Meanwhile, the effects of climate change continue to grow. From the threatening changes to rainfall patterns in Southern Africa to flooding in East Africa, to more than 100-million people along the West African coast displaced from the shoreline by rising sea levels. Africa is warming faster than the global average, and SA faster than Africa as a whole. So delaying action while we deal with coronavirus will only store up bigger problems for the future. We must keep up the momentum. As hosts of Cop26, we in the UK are redoubling our ambition to achieve a climate-resilient, zero-carbon economy at home, and a high-ambition outcome from Glasgow in 2021.

…The numbers are clear. Renewable energy costs have plummeted: solar, onshore-wind and battery storage costs have fallen 77%, 35%, and 85% respectively since 2010. Every $1m spent in the sector generates 13.5 full-time jobs in renewables infrastructure, and 7.72 in energy efficiency. That translates to cleaner air, better health, cheaper power, and jobs. And SA already boasts a world-leading policy framework for attracting investment in renewables, the Renewable Energy Independent Power Procurement Programme (REIPPP). Previous rounds have drawn in long-term investment from around the world and demonstrated that power generation need not rely on endless public subsidies. Opening a fresh round now would send a strong signal to investors and create jobs and support localisation. It would influence broader investor sentiment about SA in a positive direction. Further delay will see international investors commit their money elsewhere.