From 2009, the AIDC saw the necessity of integrating the ecological crisis and especially the climate crisis into its programmes and strategies, as a significant dimension of the overall crisis of civilisation which the world was facing. A major theme of our work was jobs and decent work, given the centrality of SA’s unemployment crisis to the social and economic crisis weighing down SA’s post-Apartheid transition. It was in this context that we developed the One Million Climate Jobs campaign, a strategy for reducing emissions of greenhouse gasses through the creation of climate jobs. This brought the energy, especially the electricity, sector into key focus.
Our motivation was manifold:
- Decarbonising the electricity sector would make the greatest contribution to reducing SA’s very high level of greenhouse gas emissions and lower the carbon intensity of the economy;
- The crisis of Eskom and the electricity sector is a key factor behind the deindustrialisation and current stagnation of the SA economy, significantly impacting on one of the world’s highest rates of unemployment;
- ESKOM and the electricity sector are at the centre of neoliberal reforms targeting SOEs. The liberalisation/privatisation of the electricity sector will serve as a model for what will be pursued with Transnet and other key vehicles for providing essential services on which poor people depend. Hence, realistic and concrete alternatives must be shown to be available and feasible.
As the crisis of Eskom deepened and as the country was hit by more frequent and longer periods of load-shedding, this focus on energy became more and more relevant. Other work we have been doing on macro-economy and financing a wage-led low-carbon development path allowed us to develop alternative, yet very concrete policies, which have the merit of addressing the jobs crisis while simultaneously mapping the indices of a comprehensive just transition.
Since the government has finally acknowledged the seriousness of the Eskom crisis and its centrality to the economic and environmental challenges the country is facing by declaring a state of disaster and appointing a minister for electricity based in the Presidency, we thought it might be useful to share some of the resources we have developed over time. We believe they provide a valuable perspective and set of analyses for charting a just transition in SA.
We hope you will find this digest useful:
One Million Climate Jobs Booklet (2011 & 2017)
This booklet published in 2017 is a follow-up to the first booklet that was produced in 2011. It is based on well-researched solutions for how South Africa can immediately begin a just transition, away from the Minerals-Energy Complex that continues to dominate the South African capitalist economy, to a low carbon economy in which the basic needs of communities are met in an equitable, sustainable and affordable way.
This review critically examines the current REI4P model of socio-economic development implementation. More specifically, it asks whether the REI4P is creating decent full-time jobs to its maximum potential; delivering services to those affected communities, and empowering communities to identify and implement opportunities beyond the renewable energy projects.
This booklet seeks to show that science is simple, at least at the level required for non-scientists to take an active part in determining their lives and the lives of their children and grandchildren. It also seeks to show that climate jobs and the better and cheaper services they bring are there to be had – but only if people are aware of them and are ready to campaign for them.
Climate jobs (comic booklet)
This booklet sets out what we need to do to fight climate change and mass unemployment at the same time. It seeks to address the real concerns of workers. It argues that, rather than being the victims of unemployment and climate change, workers can organise to do two urgent things at once: through our trade unions, we can plan a Just Transition away from climate change. At the same time, we can force the creation of the hundreds of thousands of climate jobs needed to make sure that our children and grandchildren and their children’s children have a climate-friendly world in which to live.
This report presents the case for a modern national power utility – a New Eskom. Unfortunately, in the public discourse around energy in South Africa, the word ‘Eskom’ has become an expletive. To suggest that a reformed publicly utility can and must play a new and perhaps expanded role in shaping the country’s energy future as it transitions away from coal sounds ludicrous. But this is exactly what the situation demands and this report explains why.
In order to fully understand the problems facing Eskom and the electricity system today, it is important to understand the history of how electricity developed in South Africa, who was responsible and why it was developed; what changes were made and when, and in whose interests. Once we have this full picture, we can better understand what we need to do to transform the current system in order to meet basic social needs.
In this booklet, we bring together some key arguments, summaries, and sections of the full Eskom Transformed report. We hope to leave you not only with an understanding of why unbundling is a dead end but also with a vision of an alternative that is worth fighting for!
This booklet packs many of the key points from Eskom Transformed into an accessible questions & answers format, where we address some of the common questions around the energy crisis and climate change.
This report presents the case for a modern national power utility – a New Eskom. Unfortunately, in the public discourse around energy in South Africa, the word ‘Eskom’ has become an expletive.
To suggest that a reformed public utility can and must play a new and perhaps expanded role in shaping the country’s energy future as it transitions away from coal sounds ludicrous. But this is exactly what the situation demands and this report explains why.
The Public Investment Corporation (PIC) is the asset manager for the Government Employees Pension Fund (GEPF) and holder of large sums of public assets. Thinking creatively about PIC can be the key to fixing the debt problem at Eskom and other State Owned Enterprises (SOEs) (Chapter 3). This booklet also looks at unlocking investment for job creation and at combating deepening austerity (Chapter 4). The final chapter (5) looks at governance in the context of widespread and deep corruption. The booklet illustrates how the PIC and the GEPF could be a means to address all of these issues simultaneously.
Since coming to power in 1994, South Africa’s government has promised “electricity for all” as a critical component in undoing the gross disparities of Apartheid. This commitment has produced a dramatic rise in grid connections, such that more than 80 percent of households were connected to the grid by 2015, up from only 30 percent in 1994. Harder to shift has been the persistent levels of poverty and inequality.
The development of the local renewable industry has often been described as a major source of job creation in the ‘Just Transition’. This research report discusses the impediments trade agreements pose to the development of this local renewable industry.
- What to do with Eskom? Going beyond the obvious solutions
- A different Eskom: Achieving a just energy transition for South Africa
- If Eskom’s tariff increase is to go, its financing model needs to bite the dust too
- Eskom unbundled: Contradictions in the plan will exacerbate the energy crisis
- Only a public pathway for electricity supply can the climate crisis challenge
- Renewable energy must become a public good
- Power struggle: The 100MW exemption is likely to be a monumental step towards privatisation — not necessarily for the good
- South Africa: Cancel Eskom’s odious debt to the World Bank
- We can’t just wave goodbye to Eskom – we need to fix it, and it’s possible
- The problematic politics of Eskom (2014)
- Renewable energy, a prisoner of privatisation (2014)
- Restoring Eskom: What’s making it ill? (2016)
- Eskom’s smouldering love affair with coal shows no sign of cooling (2017)
- The struggle to socialise Eskom (2019)
- Climate change: We are wedded to our own suicide (2022)
- What to do with Eskom? Going beyond and behind the seemingly obvious solutions (2022)
- Why the fossil-fuel industry is a distraction to understanding the failure of COP27 (2022)
- Climate crisis – practical action begins with better understanding of planetary reality (2023)