I'm the founder of FutureWork IQ where I spend my time assisting businesses to design digital workplaces or “offices in the cloud.” These environments enable companies to allow flexible and remote working for their teams. I also teach the digital literacy, fluency, communication and collaboration skills needed to work in these modern technology-rich workplaces.

South Africa Energy Mix

[Note: Our blog will continue featuring posts surrounding the unfolding climate crisis as the crisis will have, in our view, a profound impact on the future of work]

So if you have been following the updates here over the last while you will know that we have been sharing a lot of data around the very serious situation we find ourselves in.

As mentioned we are already locked in to a rise in temperatures that are going to cause some serious situations to play out.

Our No. 1 priority right now is to bring down the global CO2 emissions. This is not going to happen with individual actions alone. This requires a global system change.

Let’s just quickly talk about individual actions. No one is saying that individual actions are not important. They absolutely are! This is how movements start. Look at what young Greta Thunberg sparked. Individual action requires that we individually have to do a fossil fuel audit. In other words we need to make a list of all the areas fossil fuels touch our lives and then, using that list, find ways as soon as possible to decouple our lives from their use. This involves the homes we live in, how we get from A to B, the clothes we buy, the food we eat.

Greta Thunberg

This may will involve making a plan to power your home with solar, driving less by allowing your company to embrace remote work, perhaps buying an electric car and flying less or not at all for business. It may involve cutting down dramatically on meat consumption. If enough people did this it will obviously have an impact, but it’s a system change we need.

So let’s give you an example of what we mean by a system change in the South African context.

Did you know that in South Africa almost 86% our energy comes from fossil fuels! (See attached pic) 68% being from coal. This explains why we are no. 14 on the list of the top CO2 producing countries in the world. (See Chart of the day: These countries create most of the world’s CO2 emissions)

Emission Ranking

For South Africa to meet its Paris Climate Accord obligations and to get off this list our No. 1 priority is to immediately begin the process to end our reliance on coal for our energy. What would this involve:

  1. The government needs to cancel the completion of units 5 and 6 of the Kusile coal power plant.
  2. The government needs to enact a moratorium on new, and planned, coal plants
  3. The government needs to retire coal plants that cannot be economically retrofitted for air quality standards.
  4. The government needs to accelerate decommissioning of old coal power plants.

In fact based, on what the science is telling us, we need to be way more ambitious. South Africa needs to aim closing ALL its coal plants by 2040.

This is a massive undertaking that requires strong political leadership and will. But it can be done as other countries, like Chile and the UK are showing. This move would have a massive positive impact on employment.

There are three other initiatives which need to be implemented.

  1. The roll out of a mass electrified public transit system in urban centers (to get fossil fuel driven cars off the road)
  2. Changing building codes for any new buildings
  3. Shifting to more efficient appliances

(You can read about all this in this report on what South Africa needs to do from the UN’s Climate Transparency Organisation)

This is an example of the system change that needs to happen.

As you can see it is a massive highly disruptive undertaking, but one that we have to embark on if we are going to stand at least a 67% chance of limiting global temperature rise above 1.5°C.