Remarks by Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe at the launch of the Energy Efficiency Campaign by Eskom
18 March 2011Minister of Energy, Dipuo Peters;
Minister of Public Enterprise, Malusi Gigaba;
Chairman of Eskom, Mpho Makwana;
Ladies and gentlemen:
I would first like to thank you for inviting me to this event, the Energy Efficiency Campaign by Eskom.
The world we live in is a dynamic, ever-changing place which is driven by events that are often interrelated and have impacts that are far-reaching.
This truth is evident in today's world which is being energised by electricity.
Across the world, in emerging as well as developed economies, there has been a movement towards growing electricity generation resources.
The demand has been driven by the need to meet national energy consumption needs and the connection of a large section of previously excluded population.
The increasing demand for electricity, coupled with our obligation to reduce emissions, means that we have the duty to develop better technologies through research to harness energy by using methods such as underground gassification and other alternative innovations.
On the one hand, as a developing nation, we need electricity to drive social and economic change. Government has, for example, pledged itself to ensuring that all South Africans have access to electricity.
As the public utility responsible for electricity generation, Eskom has over the years extended its network and through electrification projects brought quality of life and economic opportunities to many in rural areas who were previously denied access to services.
On the other hand, ninety-two percent of our electricity is generated using the country's plentiful coal resources.
Reaching a happy medium between the need for electricity and the reduction of environmentally damaging emissions places South Africa in the same situation as many other nations. This conundrum can be addressed in two ways.
We can work with other nations towards finding ways of reducing emissions and so relieve the burden on our environment.
At home we can concentrate on mobilising our people and gaining their support to create an energy efficient nation which values its electricity and participates actively in conserving this valuable resource.
In this regard, it is encouraging to note that cities such as Durban and Cape Town have already launched their own energy efficiency campaign, in partnership with industry.
We also note commitment by the private sector to reduce wastage by introducing efficient production methods.
Looking at South Africa's international commitment to the environment, I am pleased to say that government and Eskom have participated fully in international "think-tanks” and meetings designed to set parameters on damaging environmental gases.
We participate fully in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and underwrite the organisation's objective to stabilise greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous interference with the climate system.
As a nation, we will also be hosting the Convention of the Parties - the latest in the series of United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change meetings in Durban in December 2011.
This will give us a major opportunity to shape the debate and influence discussions on the role of the developed and emerging economies in achieving significant environmental policy change.
There is no doubt, however, that immediate benefits for the environment can be achieved in South Africa in the short-term if we all consider just how we are using electricity.
By taking action on a personal level to reduce waste, acting as an "electricity influencer” at home and in the workplace, we can today begin the process of saving electricity and contributing to the health of our environment.
Every South African can be part of the process. By making individual contributions, no matter how small, we can save energy.
We can through our actions ensure that as Eskom builds new capacity we develop habits that are ultimately beneficial to the health of our families.
By reducing the need for coal and making better use of generating facilities we will also be safeguarding our environment for future generations.
The Energy Efficiency Campaign being launched today is a vital component in the country's drive for responsible economic and developmental growth.
We each have it within our power to make an individual difference to energy efficiency in South Africa.
Working in partnership to save energy, all South Africa's people can guarantee a better future.
Let me conclude by making a call to all South Africans: wherever you are, please use your power to save electricity!