The fact that the major parties are speaking about environment and climate change in their election manifestos is encouraging. This not only reflects that these issues are being prioritised, but also the changing sentiment of voters. However, it is important to remember that manifesto promises do not necessarily result in actual implementation. Whilst focusing on climate change, parties should ensure that their policies are pro-poor. Any climate change intervention should result in a developmental benefit i.e. solar water heating creating jobs. Whilst the major parties mention climate change and energy, few draw the link between energy and economic activity, or look at the nexus of energy and health, food and water. Those that mention renewable energy mainly focus on solar and there is not much about decentralized power.
The ANC, DA, EFF were the strongest on environmental and climate change issues and they all covered sustainable energy and renewable energy. The VVF was the only other manifesto that covered energy and renewable energy. The IFP, ACDP and PAC were the weakest manifestos and had nothing on energy, climate change or environment. Agang falls into that same category, except that they mentioned food security.
Happy and I attended a roundtable hosted by Catholic Parliamentary Liaison Office with EFF, Agang and ACDP. We asked about their priorities on climate change and if they supported the National Development Plan, but we found all of their responses to be weak.
For a more detailed summary of each manifesto click here: Who is the greenest party – comparison. What are your thoughts on who is the greenest party – write a comment below, we’d love to hear from you.
The ANC energy plan talks about producing clean energy and promoting self sufficiency, and aims to increase use of solar and wind energy. 1.3 million homes will be installed with solar water heaters. However, their energy plan also includes coal, nuclear, fracking and large-scale hydro. Their manifesto did not have a dedicated environmental/climate section. The ANC aims to reverse acid mine drainage within five years and to prevent further contamination of water sources. (We are skeptical as to whether this is possible in their timeframe). They plan to impose fines on polluting companies. The green economy is mentioned, but no detail given. There was a focus on increasing public transport infrastructure all of which would be manufactured locally. There was a strong focus on food security and plans to support small-scale farmers and cooperatives. The ANC is committed to working with other countries on the issue of climate change. However, nothing more was mentioned on reducing South Africa’s carbon footprint. There was no mention of the links between climate, energy and health. There was also no focus on adaptation. As the ruling party, there is an expectation that the ANC would be the strongest and most detailed on environmental and climate change issues.
The DA manifesto was strong on environmental issues and included a dedicated section to the environment and the green economy. They plan to diversify our energy mix, reduce our reliance on coal and invest in grid technologies to make it easier for small-scale producers to feed electricity into the grid. The DA spoke of sustainable fishing quotas and subsistence farming and community engagement with regards to environmental issues. Key strategies for mitigation of climate change included sectoral emissions targets (this is already Government policy). Key mitigation actions will include: Energy efficiency, renewable energy, improving public transport, carbon capture and storage. They also speak to adaptation and building climate resilience and plan to start a climate adaptation fund. They plan to create jobs through the green economy. As much as the DA came up with their plans going forward, a large proportion of their manifesto was criticizing the ANC.
The EFF speaks of creating sustainable livelihoods for the poorest of society. Priority of energy security and the environment was included as one of their top 14 priorities. Their energy plan includes heavy investment in green energy sources (wind and solar) which an aim to reduce dependence on coal. Their plan however includes nuclear power which they describe as “environmentally friendly”. They have an ambitious plan to start large scale desalination of sea water to provide for SA’s needs, however we are not convinced this is realistic and would need to see more detail. Other plans for water supply include large-scale dams and expansion of the Lesotho Highlands project. The EFF plans to manufacture solar water heaters locally. A state food-stocking company (to regulate prices of basic foodstuffs) will guarantee food security for all. The EFF had a surprising large amount of focus on environmental issues for a new party.
The UDM did not focus on energy, but did include plans for environmental protection, which included implementing tax incentives to companies to invest in sustainability. They call for stricter environmental legislation and enforcement. The UDM had a strong focus on food security. The UDM acknowledges climate change, water scarcity and the energy crisis as three greatest challenges but does not go into any detail on these topics. We feel their focus on environmental protection is based on the idea of a resource-based economy, rather than a transition towards a low carbon economy.
COPE’s election manifesto was short did not give much detail. They support the Government’s National Development Plan and broadly mention sustainable development, the green economy, recycling and organic farming but provide little detail on energy. We expected more from COPE.
The VVF speaks to reducing our reliance on fossil fuels and increasing our solar capacity. This will not only benefit the environment but create economic resilience to households.
Agang was disappointingly silent on all the topics we are covering in this analysis – no mention of energy, climate change or the environment. Through land reform, they will empower citizens to return to farming and produce food to overcome the challenge of food security. As a new party looking to the future, we are dissatisfied with their coverage.
The PAC did not cover energy, climate change or sustainability in their election manifesto.
The ACDP did not cover energy or climate change issues at all in their manifesto.
The IFP manifesto had nothing on climate change, environment, or energy.
For a more detailed summary of each manifesto click here: Who is the greenest party – comparison
Olivia Andrews (Operations Manager) and Happy Khambule (Research and Policy Officer)