23 October 2018
Chairperson: Mr F. Majola (ANC)
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There was a consistent thread of concern on the continued use of coal and other fossil fuels in the draft IRP and the impacts on the environment. Most asked that coal and nuclear options be removed from the IRP and that a new IRP had to be developed that excluded these. The preference was for renewable energy. There was also criticism for the lack of concern by government about the impact on the lives of ordinary people and communities that the draft IRP would cause in terms of physical health, accessibility to energy and the affordability of electricity.
Groundwork said that another IRP was necessary for a just transition, and cited the following reasons: • uphold people’s constitutional rights • clean up air pollution • avoid the catastrophic climate change implications • avoid (state) bankruptcy.
SAFCEI’s views were influenced by the core principles of the Earth Charter that included the respect and care for the community of life, ecological integrity, social and economic justice and democracy, non-violence and peace. Among the recommendations to improve the draft IRP were: • the draft IRP had to include a clear vision for energy by 2050 • South Africa had move away from coal and nuclear • we had to acknowledge our limits for water, the environment, and had to pollute less • we should not leave an environmental mess for future generations to clean up • the IRP had to be flexible and had to contain more renewables.
Earthlife Africa voiced its concern about the lack of consultation with communities and other stakeholders impacted by electricity and power constraints. It was important that the Committee was made aware of this as affected citizens had been omitted from the consultation process on the draft IRP. It had requested copies of the draft IRP from the Department on 29 August 2018 to assist with engaging communities on the draft IRP but had received no response thus far. Earthlife Africa wanted less coal and no nuclear in the IRP. South Africa had to find a different way to generate electricity not using coal or nuclear. Ownership models had to include decentralised ownership models.
Members of the public complained that the public participation process would be more effective if the public hearings went to the communities affected by high levels of carbon emissions as a result of coal mining. They were opposed to the inclusion of more coal-fired powered stations in the IRP because of the harmful effects coal has on people’s health and livelihoods. There was a concern that the needs of ordinary citizens were not being taken into consideration.
The Department of Energy was criticised for the technical language of the Draft IRP, with the public calling for a more accessible document.
The meeting was attended by a large contingent from faith based and other community organisations. The Department of Energy (DOE) was led by its Director General, Mr Thabane Zulu. Energy expert, Prof Anton Eberhard from the University of Cape Town Business School as well as representatives from Nersa and Eskom, attended the meeting.
The Chairperson announced that there would be minimal discussion with presenters to enable the Committee to conclude its programme and that it would interrogate the submissions at a later date.
Groundwork submission Mr Bobby Peek, Director: Groundwork, was accompanied by Mr James Irlam, UCT Environmental Health senior lecturer representing PHASA (Public Health Association of South Africa). Mr Peek started the submission by congratulating the two South African recipients of the prestigious international Goldman Environmental Prize, Liz McDaid and Makoma Lekalakala, who were both present, for “outstanding environmental achievements in Africa” at an awards ceremony in San Francisco recently.
Mr Peek said that Groundwork wanted environmental justice for people and that we have to live in harmony with each other and the earth. He stressed that the draft IRP had to limit the damage caused by coal and that his organisation did not support the draft IRP – another IRP was necessary for a “just transition” away from coal and fossil fuels to sources that were environmentally friendly such as renewables. He raised concerns about climate change, energy poverty, whether black lives were cheap and evidence that coal “killed”.
He said that pollution and other environmental health problems mainly affected young people. South Africa was the 14th largest emitter of green house gases (GHG) and Eskom accounted for 20-25% of Africa’s GHG emissions. The current draft IRP did not indicate any reduction in GHG emissions. It would not enable the country to meet the minimum carbon budget as agreed at international levels (minimum average temperature increase of 1.5°C). More than 50% of South Africans were poor and the increased cost of power in the current IRP proposals would not reverse the trend – Eskom’s power generation mainly benefited big business and did not do much to protect poor citizens from high electricity tariffs. Eskom had to change the grid so that it reflected a greater percentage of RE (renewable energy) in the energy mix.
He presented a publication called “Coal Kills – Research and Dialogue for a Just Transition” that Groundwork had just released. It contained the evidence that “coal killed” and why a new IRP was necessary. The report included information about the destruction of the Highveld region, policy weaknesses, water impacts and labour plan failures.
He said that another IRP was necessary for a just transition, and cited the following reasons: • uphold people’s constitutional rights • clean up air pollution • avoid the catastrophic climate change implications • avoid (state) bankruptcy. avoid (state) bankruptcy
Mr James Irlam continued and said that greater equity in health was required. PHASA was advocating for healthy energy as climate change, health and energy were intertwined. Energy use had promote effective climate change and not exacerbate the situation. Air quality was critical in addressing the challenges of those living in and around coal burning facilities. Climate change would affect all aspects of our lives and the bottom line was a healthy life, not the catastrophic implications of the continued use of energy options that failed to address the negative climate change impacts.
SA Faith Communities Environmental Institute (SAFCEI) submission Ms Liz McDaid: Eco-Justice Lead at SAFCEI, led the briefing supported by other SAFCEI members including Mr Gosiame Choabi and others representatives from the SA Council of Churches (SACC).
Ms McDaid said that SAFCEI views were influenced by the core principles of the Earth Charter that included the respect and care for the community of life, ecological integrity, social and economic justice and democracy, non-violence and peace.
One of the SACC members said that “we” had sinned against the environment and that we had lost our way in caring for God’s creation. He called for a personal commitment to change for the good and to reduce the risks of climate change.
Another SACC member said that the draft IRP failed to acknowledge the impact on woman and the poor, who bore the brunt of the lack of access to electricity. There could be no new coal fired power stations due to the environmental damage it caused. Fracking was deeply problematic and the environmental and economic impacts of it were poorly understood. Other concerns about the IRP were the lack of access for woman to participate in projects, access to information and that IRP projects had to be decentralised. The current draft IRP had to be rejected.
Ms McDaid said that the energy choices in the draft IRP had to be sustainable (no pollution and waste), cause the least damage to health and the environment, had to be pro-climate change (low carbon), be affordable, provide adequate social benefits (local control, ownership and jobs) and transparency and consultation had to be improved.
The demand curve in the draft IRP did not seem realistic. Other aspects she raised were: • the CSIR energy scenarios for country supported RE as the best option to address the country’s climate change and water challenges • nuclear had to be phased out – she said that SAFCEI would provide DOE with a proposal on this. • the role of government was to ensure that the transition from coal to RE was just and in favour of workers , e.g. re-skilling and training.
She made the following recommendations – Among the recommendations to improve the draft IRP were: • the draft IRP had to include a clear vision for energy by 2050 • South Africa had move away from coal and nuclear • we had to acknowledge our limits for water, the environment, and had to pollute less • we should not leave an environmental mess for future generations to clean up • the IRP had to be flexible and had to contain more renewables. • the energy sector had to be restructured to be more decentralised • accountability and good governance had to be prioritised.
She asked that the Committee ensure that renewables were not constrained in the IRP and that nuclear had to removed from it. She asked that the Committee investigate the reason for DOE’s reticence to use more renewables.
Earthlife Africa submission Ms Makoma Lekalakala said that a key concern about the draft IRP was the lack of consultation with communities and other stakeholders impacted by electricity and power constraints. It was important that Committee members were made aware of this as the majority of affected citizens had been omitted from the consultation process on the draft IRP. She had requested some documentation from DOE on 29 August 2018, to assist with engaging communities on the draft IRP – but had received no response on the request this far. She was insistent that the Department had to respond to the request.
It was critical that the draft IRP had to protect our climate, water and health. Continuing with coal, other fossil fuels and nuclear was not aligned to this. Renewable energy had to play a more prominent role. The draft IRP had to include the latest information as at 8 October 2018 when the Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C was approved by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
Earthlife Africa wanted less coal and no nuclear in the draft IRP. South Africa had to find a different way to generate electricity not using coal or nuclear and that ownership models had to include decentralised ownership models.
In summary she said that the draft IRP had to include the following: • a drastic reduction in carbon (no new coal – no support for the new 1000MW per station) • more low cost electricity options (not coal) • climate change impacts had to considered • the plan had to be people-centred (some socially owned generation options) • had to create decent jobs .
Ms Elana Greyling, from the Limpopo region, provided input on the impacts of the draft IRP from the perspective of ordinary people living in an around coal fired power stations and coal mines. She wanted the “voice of people” to be heard, not just those from the business world. She said that the organisations she represented worked with Earthlife Africa – these included woman and various community organisations. More coal meant that it would come from the Waterberg area in Limpopo and that this meant that local people in the area would “pay” for it – the cost of the impact on health, the land and the aesthetic beauty of the area would be devastating. She invited the Committee to come to the Waterberg to observe what was at stake. The additional coal required by the draft IRP would impact negatively on the people. She pleaded that the Committee had to listen to what the people living in the Waterberg were saying.
Discussion Mr J Esterhuizen (IFP) said that the views raised by presenters were similar to other comments received by the Committee. These included the impact on people and communities and that although the IRP was an improvement on previous versions, it required more work. The country could not afford nuclear and South Africa’s abundant sun and wind resources were better options to take the country forward on a renewable path. He asked why the decommission of coal fired power stations was not in the draft IRP.
The Chairperson said that the Committee would have further discussions on the draft IRP prior to it making its recommendations.
DOE Director General, Mr Thabane Zulu, confirmed that the Department had received a request for information from Earthlife Africa. He would investigate and report back on what happened and why there had been no response.
The Chairperson asked if there was anyone from the general public attending the meeting who wanted to make submissions on the draft IRP.
Numerous individuals from community and other organisations asked if they could brief the Committee.
Mr Gosiame Choabi from the SACC in Gauteng said that his organisation was attending the proceedings with some suspicion as they were not sure if the Committee could assist them, given its track record of “selling out” on the nuclear deal. He said the draft IRP was too technical for ordinary people to understand and that a more user friendly version was required. He asked what the Committee would do about the request for 100 copies of the draft IRP as requested by Earthlife Africa.
Bishop Geoff Davis from SAFCEI said the pressures from global warming were too great to wait for plans to address problems in the future. Action had to be taken now – not in ten years. He asked that the Committee prioritise this in the draft IRP.
Ms Charmaine Pretorius from an informal settlement in Cape Town gave the Committee insight into the plight and lives of people struggling to make ends meet in informal settlements. She said people living in informal settlements were always getting the “short end of the stick” and that the draft IRP favoured big business, not those struggling under the yoke of energy poverty.
Mr David Tsumbe from Sebokeng in the Vaal Triangle said the community in his area did not support the draft IRP as the measures in the draft did not address the health concerns of people and that the cost of electricity was too high.
Mr Cetswayo from Ermelo said he represented several community organisations. He said the community could not afford electricity and that it was very disconcerting to live in and amongst the power generation industrial complexes and see all the infrastructure moving the power elsewhere and know that you were not part of it and importantly could not afford it. Communities living in the area were being compromised and their lives had not improved.
Mr Neville van Rooi, an emerging farmer from the Great Karoo, said he and others in his community were very concerned about the impact of future mining that may result from shale gas mining and fracking in the Karoo. The Karoo was a water scare area and fracking would contaminate water resources, as well as the vegetation and the land.
A member from the public representing the Khoisan community in the Stellenbosch area, said that he was very concerned about the (environmental) mess we were in. There had to be an urgent move towards more environmentally friendly energy options that minimised our carbon footprint. We had to be environment conscious and had to think more about people than just about how much money we could make.
Ms Lydia Petersen from the Alternative Information and Development Centre (AIDC) said that she was concerned about the continued high tariffs in the new plan, as it would make electricity unaffordable for many people in disadvantaged communities. All people had the right to a dignified and healthy life and the draft IRP had to enable this.
Mr Tshaba from Khayelitsha said that there was not a clear energy policy in the draft IRP. There was still too much coal that continued to damage the environment and people were suffering from this. Health was a number one priority and the continued use of coal would not enable the country to achieve this.
Another member from the public said he was also concerned about the continued use of coal in the draft IRP and wanted to know if the public has been consulted on this. We had to “go green” and use less coal. He said government was not concerned about the lives of people on the ground – but merely money. People on the ground were suffering too much and electricity was a luxury that not all could afford. He asked that government and the parliamentarians listen to what ordinary citizens were saying, not just to big business and labour negotiating deals at Nedlac.
Ms Sherilee Odia from the Durban South Alliance said that there had not been proper consultation with communities on the draft IRP – there also had to be engagements at a provincial level. The continued use of coal in the draft IRP would worsen the impact of climate change. South Africa had to abandon all its plans of power generation based on fossil fuels and turn to renewables.
Mr Sizwe Makwele from Khayelitsha said the effects of climate change was impacting severely on those living in informal settlements. Coal had to be removed from the draft IRP and there had to be a greater focus on renewable energy.
Mr Choabi and Ms Lekalakala was concerned that the DOE had not responded adequately to the request for information.
The Chairperson said that he had asked the DG to respond and he had – so the Department must be given an opportunity to respond. He said he wanted to be kept informed about the response.
The Chairperson thanked all presenters and said that the Committee would carefully interrogate these inputs. Some significant matters had been raised in the submissions. He was particularly touched by the input from community members.
There would be further meetings on the IRP in the next few days as the Committee strived to conclude its work on the matter. He was not sure about the request for provincial hearings as the current process on the IRP was agreed to at Nedlac. He would have to have discussions with the NCOP to see if this was feasible.
He said the Committee had heard – and would incorporate all the views communicated to it – and that if required, might need to meet with some stakeholders again to get a better understanding on some matters as the resolution thereof was important for the country
Ms McDaid asked if Bishop Geoff Davies could close proceedings with a prayer and the Chair agreed.
The meetings was adjourned.
￼Majola, Mr F Chairperson
￼Esterhuizen, Mr JA
￼Gqada, Ms T
￼Matlala, Mr M
￼Mavunda, Mr RT
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