Gas, Coal Face Off in South Africa

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With a COP26 donor pledge of $8.5 billion to help decarbonize its aging electricity system, plenty of wind and sun and recent gas discoveries, South Africa seems better placed than most African countries to navigate the energy transition. But the challenges of any shift from coal to new technologies with uncertain costs are complicated by competing lobbies, economic inequality, a strong environmental movement, inefficiency and corruption. South Africa, the world’s 12th largest greenhouse gas emitter, has agreed to cut coal from 75% of its energy mix to 60% by 2030. President Cyril Ramaphosa and others favor going faster to avoid more trade barriers and loss of international investment. Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe likes gas but appears in no hurry to phase out coal, given his power base in the miners’ unions. South Africa has refused to take the Global Methane Pledge and Mantashe was reportedly pressing ahead with procurement of 1,500 megawatts of new coal-fired power in South Africa — which goes against the spirit of the aid package.

Coal, Offshore Oil and Gas, Exploration
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