South Africa should not rush to ditch coal, minister says

JOHANNESBURG, Oct. 7 (Reuters) – South Africa must systematically manage its transition from power generation to coal and not rush the switch to renewable energy sources, the Minister of Mines and Mining said on Thursday. Energy, Gwede Mantashe.

“I’m not saying coal forever,… I’m saying let’s manage our transition step by step rather than being emotional,” Mantashe said at a mining conference, when asked how the commitment to China not to build new coal-fired power plants abroad would affect the South. Africa.

“We are not a developed economy, we do not have all the alternative sources,” he added.

South Africa aims to reduce the share of coal in the energy mix to less than 60% by 2030, from around 75% currently, while increasing the share of wind and solar power to around 25%.

The minister cited China’s own energy needs as an example of what could go wrong if a transition is attempted too quickly.

“Xi Jinping is now increasing coal imports, as we speak, for China,” he said.

Ahead of next month’s COP26 climate conference, Mantashe said he supported “green finance” to support South Africa’s energy transition, if it can be secured.

State-owned electricity company Eskom, Africa’s largest greenhouse gas emitter, has asked investors for billions of dollars in concessional financing to help it move away from coal and embrace sources cleaner energy. He hopes to announce an agreement at COP26. Read more

But Mantashe again warned of the economic risks of phasing out coal, saying “we must not collapse our economy because we are hungry for green finance.”

The coal mining sector had 91,459 direct employees last year, according to the industry body, the Minerals Council.

Mantashe said he was confident the South African delegation to COP26 will negotiate a deal that will help the country’s economy.

Overall, African countries want funding to help tackle climate change to more than tenfold to $ 1.3 trillion a year by 2030, a key negotiator of the United Nations told Reuters on Wednesday. African climate. Read more

Reporting by Helen Reid and Alexander Winning Editing by Emma Rumney, Jason Neely, Peter Graff

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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