As you know at Project 90 we work hard (and smart too) for social change, most notably, significant changes to our lifestyles which can eventually lead to a just and sustainable future. Our day to day lifestyle choices influence our carbon, energy, water and environmental footprints and have an impact today, tomorrow and beyond. The longer we continue not to change to smarter lifestyle options, the earlier and heavier the payback is likely to be.
Unless we change to less carbon-intensive lifestyles, we will not achieve the 350ppm (parts per million) of CO2, which is the upper safety limit for atmospheric CO2 – required for a safe human habitat. Actually the latest statistics show that we are at 395ppm, and the trend continues to show an upward trajectory.
History has shown that mankind can adapt to dramatic changes. One of the reasons why slavery was ended was because it was deemed as inhumane and therefore socially unacceptable. Despite (mostly economic) resistance to the ending of an era of human exploitation, widespread social determination to prioritise justice over exploitation won out.
Similarly, environmental exploitation is becoming socially unacceptable. Perspectives on energy use that are shortsighted and harmful to people and planet are increasingly rejected by forward-thinking citizens.
We have a choice! All of us – well, some of us, namely those who have enough (and more) access to energy – can use less and still have a comfortable lifestyle, and of the many who are yet to benefit from ‘development’, can have access to smarter options far more quickly with modern and clean energy services.
Smarter Energy Choice – starts with you. At home, use less, choose efficient lighting, use a smaller car and travel less, install a solar water heater. If you have a pool, use a solar powered pool pump, check that your home is sufficiently insulated before buying a heater, eat less meat, grow some of your own food – collective action can drive wider social change, there is no time to lose.
Project 90 with its network partners in the Electricity Governance Initiative of South Africa have contributed to the compilation of the SMART Electricity Planning report – which highlights an improved approach to Electricity planning in South Africa.
It includes ambitious, but achievable energy conservation and efficiency targets. It proposes that beyond currently built, non-renewable and unsustainable power stations, no more such power stations should be built in South Africa. Electricity demand in South Africa can, and must be supported by ethical and smart renewable energy options, both at large scale (utilities, municipalities and industries), and small scale. The SMART Electricity Plan will be officially launched soon (watch our blog for an announcement of the exact date & to download a version of the report) and will help all of us to influence decision makers we encounter – politicians, social, academic and business leaders.
A report that can inspire new ways of thinking is especially relevant now. The country’s electricity master plan, the Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) from 2010, will be reviewed later this year; the Integrated Energy Plan (IEP) is under development; the National Planning Commission is busy developing its own energy vision and implementation plan; Eskom wants more money and everybody is talking about a Green Economy. With our SMART Electricity Plan in hand, we can all be well positioned to challenge those decision makers to make smarter choices.
We want to challenge every individual to take the lead in your family and social network and question decisions and choices that will end up leaving future generations to pick up the bill.
Remember we welcome your stories of the changes you make in your lifestyle and thinking. We will share them with our wide community of readers and followers – and hopefully many of them will be inspired and follow your example!
Robert Fischer – Head of Research and Policy