Political will is needed to bring about a “just transition to a green and inclusive economy”, Greenpeace executive director Kumi Naidoo said on Monday.
He told Fin24 at the SA International Renewable Energy Conference that a new report being released by Greenpeace on Tuesday would help policy makers plot the way forward to achieve this reality.
The report, entitled Energy Revolution, pushes for a scenario where there is 100% renewable energy access for all by 2050.
According to Greenpeace, 600 million people in Africa do not have access to a single light bulb and globally 1.6 billion people “live in absolute energy poverty”.
“We believe it is possible to do that as well as getting off dirty energy, by making an ambitious transition from an economy that’s driven by dirty fossil fuel energy to an economy that’s driven by clean renewable energy,” he said.
The South African leader of the international environmentalist group said political will is needed.
“The biggest obstacle is the vested interest in the energy system,” he said. “There are people and companies making truckloads of money from the current system.
He said that while not denying climate change, many in the fossil fuel industry are “dragging out the transition for as long as possible”.
“There is a false notion that energy can only be delivered through big, centralised energy plants, such as coal or nuclear,” said Naidoo. “Clearly, there is a place for big plants for industry; however, a more effective way is to open up to decentralised approaches.”
Decentralised technologies such as micro-solar solutions would work best for rural areas in Africa, according to Naidoo.
“Those that say it’s not realistic to make the transition must understand that it’s not realistic not to make the transition,” he said.
“The planet will always be here. If we continue on the trajectory we’re on, we will be gone as a species, but the planet will still be here and the forests will grow back and the oceans will be replenished.
“The challenge for us is to secure the right of humanity to co-exist on the planet in a mutually independent relationship with nature for centuries to come.”