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Green jobs: access to clean energy can create employment in South Africa

Belynda Petrie

Briefing, 4 pages

Improving energy access through sustainable energy choices will create jobs, not emissions, in the South African economy. Greening the country’s economy is far more likely to benefit than to slow development, as so many believe. One way of greening South Africa’s economy is to reduce its dependence on high-polluting coal. Accessing available, clean resources such as wind and solar power and improving use of biomass (mainly wood fuel) will create additional sources of energy for industry and households alike, while building demand for new skills, jobs and enterprises. South Africa is in dire need of more energy and the poorest households tend to be the poorest in terms of energy access, too. The implementation of sustainable energy access projects in poor areas
demonstrates that communities can make their own energy choices, attract investments and open up job and enterprise opportunities to support their energy choices. Current policy is found to be incoherent however and the country cannot rely on market forces alone to drive change.

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One in five people around the world – 1.3 billion people – lack electricity to light their homes or run their businesses, while wealthy countries consume vast amounts of electricity every day. IIED’s energy team works to promote access to sustainable energy for the poorest communities and a more equitable consumption of energy resources. Energy access is an area of great inequity. Access to sustainable modern energy services underpins health, education and livelihoods and increases resilience to climate change – yet millions of people have no access to electricity and use dangerous and unhealthy fuels for lighting and cooking.

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Improving people’s access to sustainable energy