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SA’s coolest first phase to climate goal: No new coal

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South Africa’s preparations to fulfil a more aggressive climate target, based on how to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from coal-fired power stations, are a whirlwind of activity.

It’s possible that the simplest first step is to avoid planting new plants. By 2030, South Africa’s national Integrated Resource Plan, issued in 2019, proposes adding 1,500 megawatts of coal-fired electricity.

According to a note from Meridian Economics, reducing emissions to 350 megatons of carbon dioxide equivalent, the lower end of the country’s revised target, or NDC, would necessitate the earlier retirement of some of the fleet of 15 coal-fired plants as well as no new builds.

Newly proposed coal projects have already been met with opposition from environmental groups, who have filed legal challenges to the plans. Local banks have also declared intentions to limit the amount of money available for their construction.

The easy part would be to put a stop to future coal developments. Coal mines employ about 90,000 people, with tens of thousands more working in power plants and coal transport firms. Aside from a major buildout of renewable energy plants, Meridian claims that attaining the lower emissions range of the target would be “politically and socially hard” due to the earlier than anticipated shutdown of coal-fired plants.

Story by : Norvisi Mawunyegah