Zuma: Go renewable, create new jobs

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Feature story - February 9, 2011
As President Zuma prepares for his State of the Nation Address tomorrow, we urge him to put South Africa on track for a clean and sustainable energy future, thus providing a huge number of new jobs, as part of his move to declare 2011 the year of job creation.

In 2010, the president announced that policy changes to create jobs would be one of the most urgent focuses, and it is expected that 2011 will be no different.

What's crucial is that the South African government creates space for renewable energy – few other industries offer as many opportunities as this emerging energy industry does in South Africa.

Zuma: Go to Copenhagen

In 2009 Greenpeace activists draped the statue of former President Nelson Mandela with the message "Zuma Go to Copenhagen" to ask the South African president to personally go to the UN climate summit in Copenhagen in December. Just as we called for climate leadership then, we are renewing that call today.

With the international climate negotiations (COP 17) taking place in Durban later this year, South Africa will once again be placed in the spotlight as over 30 0000 government negotiators from 192 countries and observers from around the world descend on the city. Hosting this event will push South Africa’s domestic climate change and energy agenda firmly into the international spotlight.

However, with two massive new coal-fired power stations under construction, and 6 new nuclear power stations being considered, the country does not have much to brag about right now. In fact, the need for change and action that President Zuma focused so heavily on in his 2010 state of the nation address has only become more urgent.

“The only way to build a better future is for the South African government to leave coal and nuclear in its dirty past and instead invest in progressive large-scale implementation of renewable energy. That would be the sign of true leadership, putting the best interests of the South African people first” said Melita Steele, climate campaigner for Greenpeace Africa.