Will South Africa invest in costly, dangerous nuclear power and more dirty coal or do we put sustainable solutions at the core of our energy system?
Project 90 facilitated the Energy Caucus – a national civil society platform working to create a vision for sustainable energy solutions in South Africa – with the aim to stand closer together in preparation for the engagement around forthcoming big energy decisions.
At this year’s Caucus we had presentations about the existing policy landscape including pending documents, such as the Integrated Energy Plan and the Carbon Tax Policy Paper. At the same time we discussed civil society’s recently released numerous reports with hard facts and suggestions on how South Africa can meet its energy and socio-economic needs through renewable energy and energy efficiency.
The Caucus was attended by over 30 civil society organisations, and on the second day of the Caucus we spent time to come together in working groups on urgent topics. The two day meet up was finished up with an open session for the different working groups to present to the public and media. A few nuclear supporters came to this session, this is quite common and they always throw some facts on the table that have been researched in a way that leaves out crucial information to make it fit their argument. And as usual they started to voice myths and misleading information. Only this time, with all this expertise on Renewable Energy present in the room, it was impossible for them to get away with it.
Project 90’s contributions to the Caucus and outcomes:
Civil society organisations in South Africa all face enormous challenges – to respond effectively to identified human and environmental needs, to achieve objectives often with limited resources, to convince a dwindling pool of funders that even in a democracy there is still a need for civil society organisations to assist the achievement of government’s mandate, and to challenge the belief that just because one chooses work grounded in a sense of justice, does not mean that one’s labour should be undervalued. Civil society organisations working within the Energy sector in South Africa are further challenged by the reality of working on topics where vested interests play a powerful role. Compare the budget of any NGO working on issues of Energy justice and the budget of an organisation devoted to the supply of Nuclear energy for instance, and it very quickly becomes clear why it is that the many myths around Atomic power supply still manage to find traction.
So, with this background in mind, Project 90 aims to build bridges within the Energy sector of Civil society. We host and coordinate the Electricity Governance Initiative (EGI), we share our research findings with organisations that are unable to conduct their own research, we volunteer our time to present at workshops on energy access and practical small-scale supply. This year we undertook to organise a national Energy caucus. The purpose was to ensure that in this crucial year of energy policy decision-making, Energy Civil Society Organiations would have the opportunity to spend two days together to pool their insights and concerns into a collective strategy for positively influencing the Energy policy decision-making space in the short term. Outcomes of the Caucus include:
- a consensus-based list of resolutions to inform our immediate work
- a nine month campaign leading up to the 2014 country elections
- vastly improved collaboration between civil society organisations working on issues of energy lobbying & advocacy, implementation and awareness raising.