Paris agreement (PA) on climate change and South Africa's coal-energy complex: issues at stake
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After two decades of unduly prolonged negotiations that characterized the Conference of the Parties (COP) meetings, the international system only recently witnessed a substantive globally acceptable climate regime, the Paris Agreement (PA). The less legally binding and largely voluntary agreement establishes, amongst other things, a common framework for all Parties aimed at limiting greenhouse gas emissions (GHGEs) to not more than 2°C and more significantly, 1.5°C above the pre-industrial levels. Although the agreement admits that an economy driven by clean energy is indispensable to sustainable development, its demand of a rapid end to fossil fuel places a burden on South Africa to replace its coal and gas with clean energy sources. Meeting such demand, when no credible alternatives are put in place, would only exacerbate poverty for the millions of South Africans whose livelihood and businesses are largely sustained by coal-powered electricity. The objectives of this paper are to: (1) assess the Paris climate agreement and its feasibility; (2) appraise South Africa's coal-dependent economy; (3) suggest adjustment options aimed at dealing effectively with the situation, and also providing support for the aggregate welfare of South Africans. This article adopts the 'complex interdependence' and 'green' theories.
- Faculty of Humanities