Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe is sticking to his plan to build more coal plants in South Africa, and he’s willing to go to court to fight for it.
Mantashe made these comments while attending the Africa Energy Week conference in Cape Town on Tuesday.
“I know that we’re going to end up in court for it… Everything we do you end up in court, but I think we should,” he told reporters.
Mantashe’s stubborn stance on coal comes days after South Africa signed a $8.5 billion (R131 billion) deal with the US and European countries to help the country transition from coal towards renewable energy.
South Africa aims to decommission its coal-fired power plants over the next 15 years.
The $8.5 billion deal is also meant to support workers and communities currently dependent on the coal sector. These people will have to go from having jobs in fossil fuels to sustainable, green jobs.
Mantashe did not attend a meeting in September with climate envoys from the UK, US, Germany, France and the European Union to discuss the loans and grants.
In October, the energy minister then said South Africa should not be forced by rich countries to ban new coal-power projects.
“They must not give us conditions, they are developed countries,” Mantashe said. “We are a developing economy, they must talk to our programme.”
Mantashe, who once headed the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), has repeatedly stated that South Africa must use energy that will guarantee economic growth and save thousands of jobs.
It is estimated that 80% of South Africa’s power comes from coal, placing the country among the world’s top 12 greenhouse gas emitters.
Additional reporting by Nica Richards