However, efforts are under way to rectify that, as the South African government looks to meet its green energy targets and curb its dependence on fossil fuels. As well as contributing to the development of more environmentally-friendly methods of energy generation, these efforts will have the additional benefit of creating a large amount of “green jobs”.
More Green Energy means More Green Jobs
The term ‘green jobs’ refer to any kind of work that contributes to global sustainability. They are not restricted to a particular industry, skill set or level of education.
This is what makes the creation of green jobs such an asset to the economy. It provides a diverse array of work opportunities, open to applicants from a wide range of career and educational backgrounds. They can be jobs in the private, government or non-profit sector, and they generally offer decent wages and safe working conditions.
The Green Economy Accord was launched in 2011, with the aim of creating 300,000 green jobs in South Africa’s renewable energy sector by 2020. According to Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies, the manufacturing industry in particular will receive a boost to job creation, as there will be a need for South Africa to produce its own energy-efficient technologies if it hopes to remain globally competitive.
The South African manufacturing industry suffered a 20% drop in profitability between 2008 and 2009, but since then has shown steady recovery. The government will invest R4.7 billion in manufacturing to ensure that South Africa is able to produce its own equipment, rather than have to continuously import from overseas.
Furthermore, new building regulation standards will mean stricter enforcement of green building policies. Construction projects will need to ensure that more commercial, industrial and residential complexes are able to accommodate renewable energy technologies.
Rich in Resources
Though South Africa ranks as one of the top 3 most bio-diverse countries in the world, it still relies on coal for 80% of its energy supply. With projections indicating that the country’s energy needs could double by 2025, it’s all the more vital that alternative sources of energy are developed, and new industries created that can cater to this need.
The South African government has set a target of 34% reduction in carbon emissions by 2020, and a 42% reduction by 2025. Tantamount to achieving those aims is a greater emphasis on renewable energy sources such as solar and wind.
As such, South Africa hopes to derive at least 25% of its energy from solar and wind sources by 2030. Mass implementation of solar heating has been identified as a particularly effective means of meeting renewable energy targets and alleviating strain on the nation’s electricity grid, due to the significant proportion of energy consumption that goes towards the heating of water in residential, commercial and industrial complexes.
Such measures require specialized equipment and skills, and the government is looking to ensure that South Africa can remain globally competitive in that regard. The production, distribution and installation of green technologies will create a number of jobs across a range of industries, ensuring that the South African economy as well as its environment can glean the benefits of going green.
Image credit: Linh Do, CC BY 2.0 , Via Flickr