Greenpeace banner drop in Jozi: IRP should not include new coal

Today, Greenpeace Africa activists have scaled up the iconic Nelson Mandela Bridge in Johannesburg to drop a massive banner in response to the release of South Africa’s electricity plan, also known as the Integrated Resource Plan (IRP).

The banner which reads ‘More coal, more deaths, no water’ was dropped at the peak of morning traffic to engage commuters, and get the public to join in the call for answers in addressing the country’s electricity woes. The activists are demanding decisive action and urgent steps to ensure a 100% renewable energy future

“As we mark the centenary of the birth of Nelson Mandela, it is fitting that we have come to the iconic Nelson Mandela bridge to ask the question of why we continue to rely on coal for electricity. Mandela’s absolute belief in the realisation of human rights is reflected in the urgent need for affordable electricity for all, combined with the right to a healthy environment and the right to water. Our electricity plan helps set the agenda for all of these, and without it people’s human rights continue to be at risk” said Melita Steele, Senior Climate and Energy Campaign Manager for Greenpeace Africa.

‘To deny people their human rights is to challenge their very humanity’, expressed former statesman Nelson Mandela.

Today’s banner drop by Greenpeace Africa activists is a peaceful, but urgent call to Minister Jeff Radebe to make sure that the IRP does not include new coal, and prioritises renewable energy.

More detail about the IRP:

With this activity Greenpeace Africa reacts on yesterday’s release of the updated draft of South Africa’s electricity plan until 2030 (Integrated Resource Plan for Electricity (IRP)) which still includes new coal.

Although the plan so far only foresees an additional coal capacity of 1GW, it is important to take into account that the current electricity mix is dominated by 90percent of coal and that more than 6GW of new coal capacity (in Kusile and Medupi) is already in the pipeline/under construction.

While the new Government intends to shift new investments away from further coal and nuclear to new investments in renewable energy (+17GW) and gas (+8GW), coal will still remain the major source of electricity with a share of 65percent and a capacity of about 34GW in 2030 (today 39GW). With this plan CO2 emissions would remain on the same level as today in 2030.

That’s why Greenpeace Africa demands that the IRP doesn’t include any new coal (and nuclear investments), cancels new coal build plans as in Kusile (5+6) and only plans new investments in the cheapest and cleanest energy technologies which are renewable energies (such as solar and wind).

Beside all our criticism, we also have to acknowledge that this plan is quite a step forward compared to the past years as it moves away from massive new coal and nuclear plans and initiates for the first time significant investments in renewable energy (including for self consumption). At the same time, it is the first time that there have been clear moves away from nuclear – which is not included in the plan at all, but there is a back door still open because a decision on nuclear could still be taken in 2030 (according to the draft, up until then, it is off the table).

The draft is open now for public comment (60days) and will hopefully be finalised by the end of this year. A reminder that this is still just a draft, and we’ve had three drafts in five years now, and none of them have been finalised. The final IRP could still look quite different from this one.

Please feel free to follow @GreenpeaceAfric on Twitter and share our tweets eg.:

‘The Minister of Energy, @radebe_jeff talks about 1GW additional #coal, but actually there are more than 7GW that will be added to the grid until 2030 with those capacities, which are already in the pipeline. There is no ratio for any new coal anymore! Let’s invest more in wind and solar! #IRP2018 #EndCoal’

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