South Africa: Nuclear Power’s Threat to Democracy

EarthLife Africa | 30 April 2013 |


Without much fanfare, the Department of Energy has propelled the country towards a democratic crisis. In a briefing to Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Energy (April 16, 2013), the Department of Energy stated that it would not be reviewing the country’s electricity plan (Integrated Resources Plan 2010) this year, and that the planned six new nuclear reactors were not up for review at any point in the future. The Department’s Director General, Nelisiwe Magubane, indicated that this was the view of Cabinet.

The possible purchase of 9600 MW of new nuclear power represents the most expensive procurement in the history of South Africa and will have long-term impact on the level of South Africa’s national debt.

The day after the Department’s briefing to Parliament, the National Planning Commission released a study, conducted by the University of Cape Town’s Energy Research Centre, into South Africa’s energy future. The headline messages from this study (Towards a New Energy Future, available at are that there is no need to invest in nuclear power for at least the next 15 to 25 years, that nuclear power is not cost-effective based on the latest cost data, and that South Africa can meet its commitments on carbon emissions without nuclear power. One of the reasons why nuclear is not required now is that the demand for electricity has grown slower than what the Department of Energy predicted back in 2010…

(The full NPC modelling report is also available here).



World will be forced to spend more on climate adaptation over next 40 years – Randers

Engineering News 13 March 2013.

Professor of climate strategy at the Norwegian Business School Jorgen Randers, who co-authored of the trailblazing 1972 book The Limits to Growth and last year authored2052 – A Global Forecast for the Next Forty Years, has warned that investments related to climate adaptation will rise strongly over the coming four decades as country’s respond to more extreme weather-related disasters…



Climate action could halve energy firms’ worth – bank

The Daily Climate 3 February 2013.

For the world to succeed in reaching targets for curbing greenhouse gases, a leading bank says huge quantities of oil and gas reserves must be left unused. This is the first time the financial sector has been warned by one of its own that shares could plummet if the necessary action is taken to prevent disaster…

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AP-GfK Poll: Science doubters say world is warming

North County Times 14 December 2012.

Nearly 4 out of 5 Americans now think temperatures are rising and that global warming will be a serious problem for the United States if nothing is done about it, a new Associated Press-GfK poll finds.

(Editor’s note: A pity the poll wasn’t also about whether human actions are the cause of the CO2 rise.)

Belief and worry about climate change are inching up among Americans in general, but concern is growing faster among people who don’t often trust scientists on the environment. In follow-up interviews, some of those doubters said they believe their own eyes as they’ve watched thermometers rise, New York City subway tunnels flood, polar ice melt and Midwestern farm fields dry up.

Overall, 78 percent of those surveyed said they thought temperatures were rising and 80 percent called it a serious problem. That’s up slightly from 2009, when 75 percent thought global warming was occurring and just 73 percent thought it was a serious problem. In general, U.S. belief in global warming, according to AP-GfK and other polls, has fluctuated over the years but has stayed between about 70 and 85 percent…

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UN climate-change deal gives second life to Kyoto Protocol

Business Day Live 10 December 2012.

WHETHER it was tears of frustration from a negotiator for an alliance of 43 small island states that spilled on the last night of this year’s United Nations climate-change talks, or Poland and Russia’s arm-folding when delegates had already gathered in the final plenary session, a day later than scheduled, there it was: the money.

The deal — gavelled through well past the eleventh hour by talks president Abdullah bin Hamid Al-Attiyah despite objections — has for the first time agreed that developed nations should foot the bill for losses and damage developing nations experience due to the negative effects of climate change. The logistics of this, however, will be determined in future talks…

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Pollution limits extended UN talks under Kyoto Protocol

Business Report 10 December 2012.

The international effort to curb global warming inched forward with an agreement that extends pollution limits under the Kyoto Protocol and calls for work on a mechanism that would pay aid for climate-related disasters.

The deal, endorsed by ministers from more than 190 nations in Doha yesterday, restrains fossil fuel emissions from the EU to Australia. It also for the first time suggests a channel for richer countries to compensate poorer ones for “loss and damage” from rising sea levels and drought.

The biggest accomplishment of the annual UN conference was to streamline the discussions, paving the way for a global treaty by 2015 that would cut greenhouse gases from 2020. Both diplomats who negotiated the pact and environmental groups expressed frustration it would not have an immediate impact on the atmosphere…

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James Hansen blasts cap and trade

San Franciso Chronicle 5 December 2012.

Many environmentalists were thrilled last month when California launched its cap-and-trade system to rein in greenhouse gases.

But not James Hansen.

Arguably the best-known climate scientist in America, Hansen trashed cap and trade during a talk Tuesday night at the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco. The system, in which companies buy and sell permits to produce greenhouse gases, is a “half-baked” and “half-assed” way to deal with global warming, Hansen said.

And he made those comments with California Gov. Jerry Brown sitting in the audience.
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