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Gwede Mantashe

Gwede Mantashe, South Africa’s energy minister has expressed his stand against the coal ban for climate aid.

Mantashe reiterated that rich nations should not force South Africa to ban new coal-power projects and impose other conditions as a requirement for funding to help reduce its environmental footprint.

“They must not give us conditions, they are developed countries. We are a developing economy, they must talk to our program,” Mantashe said.

Mantashe has repeatedly stressed the security of power supply as his priority, promoting coal, nuclear, and gas as sources of generation to replace old coal-fired plants. South Africa is being subjected to a record year of blackouts, which are implemented to prevent a total collapse of the grid when the state power utility cannot meet demand.

“Rushing into renewables at the expense of coal can have adverse consequences, such as the power outages currently being seen in China, India, and the UK,” Mantashe said.

South Africa is the world’s 12th-biggest emitter of greenhouse gases, with wind and solar energy currently accounting for only about 6% of supply and coal more than 80percent.

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The energy minister had skipped a meeting in September with climate envoys from the United Kingdom, United States, Germany, France, and the European Union, where an initial amount of almost N2,250billion ($5 bn) in concessional loans and grants was discussed.

South Africa’s environment and public enterprises ministers attended the talks, as did the deputy finance minister.

The envoys aim to reach an emissions-reduction deal with South Africa that could be announced at the United Nations Climate Change Conference known as Conference of the Parties (COP26), climate talks that begin in Glasgow later this month and serve as a model for other countries seeking to transition to green energy.

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The minister’s attitude is seen as putting him at odds with Cyril Ramaphosa, the South African President who in a letter to the nation this week spoke of the need to cut emissions and win climate aid. The consequences of not doing so will ultimately harm South Africa’s ability to trade, as tariffs could be imposed on carbon-heavy goods, the president said.

Mantashe defended the country’s 2019 energy blueprint, which allows for the development of 1 500 megawatts of new coal capacity. This, he said, will allow South Africa to experiment with new technologies that may cut emissions when the fuel is burnt.

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