Parliament's energy committee's shortsighted recommendation that coal should survive as a source of energy in SA until 2030 is, in part, due to concern that job losses will occur if coal mines are shut down.
This concern is justifiable, but, like the past health-related government policy changes that were made in the tobacco and the sugar industries which must have caused job losses, the government is duty bound by the constitution and the Paris Agreement within the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change to do the right thing and take coal out of its integrated resource plan.
Job losses at coal mines will be partly mitigated by the creation of new jobs in the sustainable energy industries, and if government policies were changed allowing easier laws of employment and less onerous laws regarding the running of businesses, there would be other jobs on offer to former coal miners.
The editorial in Nature, International Journal of Science, on October 9 reads: “Governments must take heed of latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) assessment. The report makes clear that there is no safe level of global warning …. The IPCC report makes clear, going carbon-neutral by mid-century is a terribly daunting challenge.
"Modelled scenarios that maintain warming at 1.5?°C assume that renewable energy sources such as wind and solar must account for 70% to 85% of global electricity production by 2050. Natural-gas-fired power plants equipped with carbon-capture and carbon-sequestration technology account for just 8% of the projected power needs, with coal close to zero.
"This has dire implications for fossil-fuel infrastructure and investments, and will affect the price of energy, consumer products and jobs in many places. But the report also makes it clear that the benefits of aggressive action far outweigh the costs.”
It is a tough call, but one that must be made if humanity is to have a future worth living.