Last week we received two loud wake-up calls, one from the ratings agencies and the other from 11,000 climate scientists around the world. Both demanded immediate, drastic action. Alas, it seems our government is not only deaf to these alarms, but also blind to the steps that need to be taken to achieve both.
Our president should explain to his public sector union allies that the choice is stark: reduced salaries or fewer jobs, preferably a generous dose of both.
One place to start is obviously Eskom. Coal-fired power stations need to be closed, starting with those that are high cost, heavily polluting or where industrial action and sabotage are present. If the result is load-shedding, make sure it’s the municipalities and communities that don’t pay their bills who suffer most.
Last week the government advertised highly paid executive positions in the CEF group of companies. Instead, the CEF companies should be liquidated and Mossgas closed down.
The new energy projects announced — a new state oil refinery to process Saudi crude imports forever and a day, a gas import terminal that will be another Coega white elephant, an investment in an oilfield in corruption-prone South Sudan and more empowerment coal mining companies — will only lead to the creation of stranded oil, gas and coal assets as the world moves decisively away from carbon.
These projects should all be terminated before they consume even more taxpayer money the government doesn’t have, and suck in more naive investors tapping precious Public Investment Corporation funds.
Instead, the government should provide incentives for the private sector to build solar and wind farms and manufacture electric vehicles. In the short term the 25% import duty on electric cars should abolished. These simple measures will lead to more jobs, cheaper energy and a greener environment. Our balance of trade will improve dramatically as oil and gas imports dry up.
We all lauded our national rugby team for pulling together to achieve a clear goal — why can’t our political and union leaders do likewise to address these two huge challenges?
Brian Paxton, Claremont