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Policy  |  Submissions

The Political Economy of Climate Change: NEDCOM June 2014

8 August 2014

Main Arguments

- Climate Change is definitely a working class issue
- Restructuring the domestic and international political economy is crucial for developing a low-carbon economy
- Impossible to develop a low-carbon economy without economic restructuring
- There is a strong correlation between energy and climate change.
- Transformation of energy planning is key for developing a low-carbon economy

Background

- South Africa is 12th largest emitter of GHGs in the world
- Produces 1.5 % of global emissions
- Produces almost half of the emissions on the continent
- Per capita emissions are nearly equal to those of the EU; but these countries are rated higher on HDI
- This indicates that the rich causes climate change & the working class bears the socio-economic externalities.

Political Economy

- What is the nature of the mutual interaction between the state and market?
- How the state and its associated processes influence the distribution & production of wealth
- How political decisions or interests influence the location of economic activities and the distribution of costs & benefits
- How economic power and forces alter the distribution of political and military power in the world

Challenges of Post-Apartheid Political Economy

- High unemployment and inequality
- Concentrated patterns of ownership
- Deindustrialization
- Unproductive investment
- Over financialization of the South African Economy
- Minimal Structural Reconfiguration : Minerals Energy Complex

Climate Change and SA’S Economy

- Electricity generation accounts for 40 % of GHGs emissions; 92% produced from coal
- Transport and energy used in industry = just under 10 % each
- Industrial process emissions =14%
- Agriculture and land use= 5%
- Waste = 2.1%

So what does this mean for the working class?

- The crisis of unemployment will continue: traditional energy sectors have become more capital intensive.
70 000 power sector jobs were lost between 1980 and 2000 in SA; whilst electricity expanded by 60 percent during the same epoch.
- Workers and communities in the traditional energy sectors will bear the externalities of traditional energy production
1. Non-compliance with health and safety standards
2. Non compliance with environmental legislation
- The-above mentioned crisis of unemployment will be exacerbated by deindustrialization because of reliance on MEC
- Food insecurity
1. Decrease in food production
2. Increase food prices
3. Increase food insecurity
- Exacerbate the water crisis
1. Decreasing natural water supply
2. Higher temperatures cause evaporation
- Exacerbate the Housing/Human Settlement
1. Floods and extreme winds destroy housing/settlements
2. Destroy public amenities in coastal regions
- Increase Energy poverty
1. Energy distribution skewed towards industry and upper classes
2. Citizens use unsafe, unreliable sources of energy
3. Many people still do not have access to electricity
- Health and burden of disease.
1. Heat strokes
2. Respiratory Diseases
3. Food shortage will cause malnutrition

So what is to be done?

- Green Accord?
- Policy Discussions:
1. The Development of the Renewable Energy Sector
2. Agrarian and Land reform
3. Energy Planning for a low–carbon economy
4. Economic Restructuring, Climate Jobs and the just transition

Key aspects of Green Accord

- Commitment one: SWH
- Commitment Three: Renewable Energy
- Commitment eight: Retrofitting
- Commitment nine: Reducing emissions on our roads
- Commitment ten: Increasing energy access
- Commitment eleven : localization; cooperatives; youth employment and skills development

Renewable Energy and SA

- Accounts for less than 1% of electricity production
- High job potential if localization strategy is implemented
- Integral for decentralization of energy
- Potential to revive industrial and manufacturing base of South Africa
- Less costly than nuclear energy; key for emission reduction

Land and Agrarian Reform

- Agrarian reform is essential for addressing challenges of poverty; inequality and unemployment
- Development of local small scale farmers
- Reform agrarian techniques so they compliment the transition to a low carbon economy

Energy Planning & Low-carbon economy

- Rejection of big corporate driven projects that exacerbate climate change and unequal distribution of energy
- Advocate for public and social forms of ownership in the renewable energy sector
- Restructure the political economy
- Place socio-economic indices at the centre of energy planning
- Transforming state owned enterprises

Economic restructuring, Climate Jobs & Just Transition

- New Growth Path estimate :300 000 direct jobs in green economy by 2020
- 80 000 will be in manufacturing ; others in maintaining ,operating and constructing infrastructure
- Creation of 400 000 jobs by 2030
- Localization and beneficiation are key for achieving the above-mentioned targets
Defend the principle of a just transition

By Khwezi Mabasa

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