Environmental group E3G on Wednesday released a poll showing that 80% of South Africans think investing in renewable energy is better in the long run
The poll, commissioned and by E3G and conducted by YouGov, coincides with China’s second forum on its Belt and Road Initiative, a strategy adopted in 2013 in an attempt to revive old trade routes by building infrastructure. As of 2017, the Chinese government had already invested more than US $80-billion in the formation of its modern-day Silk Road.
South Africa officially signed up to be a member of the Belt and Road Initiative in 2015. Since then, China has invested heavily in the production of coal power plants in South Africa, including providing loans needed to build the Medupi and Kusile coal plants.
During an online survey, 6,000 people from six countries were asked to answer questions about renewable energy and coal-based energy. Residents of Indonesia, Pakistan, Philippines, South Africa, Turkey and Vietnam were overwhelmingly more supportive of green energy options over fossil fuels.
According to the poll, 80% of South African respondents believe investing in renewables is better for long-term development than investing in coal.
About 29% of South African respondents said foreign investment in coal would benefit the economy in the long run, but 39% believed that investment in coal increased corruption.
More than half the South African respondents agreed that fossil fuels increase air and water pollution. Air pollution and coal production are particularly relevant in South Africa, where coal is still king. A 2018 report by Greenpeace found that Mpumalanga, where most of Eskom’s power plants are located, tops the global charts for nitrogen dioxide production.
Despite ongoing concerns over climate change and global warming, EndCoal, an environmental organisation supported by Greenpeace and other environmental activists groups, found that “Chinese financing is behind over 50% of all global coal power capacity currently under development”.
E3G chief executive Nick Mabey told Reuters that “China should now work with governments, business and investors at the upcoming forum to make sure these demands are met”.