Coal-dependent SA will need an ordered retreat from fossil fuels
Managing the socioeconomic risks requires a coherent plan from the government, with broad support from civil society, labour and business
In 2019 about 11,000 scientists from around the world clearly and unequivocally stated that the earth is facing a climate emergency. As the world works towards on an economic growth path that is aligned with a well below 2ºC future, we can anticipate increasing social and political pressure.
SA is a highly carbon-intensive economy; we’re one of the top 20 largest emitters of greenhouse gases and, on a per-unit-of-GDP basis, we rank well above the global average. In the context of the global effort to decouple economic growth from fossil fuel use, these statistics have material bearing on SA’s long-term economic competitiveness. Winners in the long run will be those countries, and companies, that can decarbonise their growth. The low-carbon transition could reduce the demand for and price of assets, including carbon-intensive fossil fuels such as coal and oil. Similarly, the infrastructure that supports these assets is also at risk. This includes rail, port and energy infrastru...