Finally, a clear and welcome call from one of your leading columnists: “A 2050 net zero-carbon target for the country needs to be put in place before the middle of 2021” writes Peter Attard Montalto ("Time for state to get into gear on energy policy", December 6). A group of nongovernmental organisations (NGOs) — the Energy Governance SA network — recently made the very same point in an open letter to the president.

We can’t wait for the establishment of the long-promised Presidential Climate Change Co-ordinating Commission (P4C) to be set up, to then deliberate on policies and pathways before SA decides to get with the programme — as clearly laid out by the secretary-general of the UN again last week. The task of the P4C must be to elaborate how to make the transition as just as possible.

With many factors having come to a head in 2020, the prevarication and vagueness we got away with in 2011 are today widely recognised as evasion, political paralysis and/or a refusal to forego the gravy train provided by our existing fossil energy system. International studies of the composition of economic recovery packages responding to the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic show SA further entrenching our fossil-fuel dependence, with a little green dressing for the sales pitch.

The US president-elect campaigned on a platform that includes committing the US to become carbon neutral by 2050, as well as driving a Green New Deal. While the latter proposition leaves much to be desired, it beats what SA has on the table, showing how far we now are on the wrong side of responding to climate change.

Richard Worthington

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