Building low carbon future is the duty of all mankind

Implementing a strategy that will meet the demands of an ever-expanding population while remaining conscious to climate change and the risk that it continues to pose is of the utmost importance, the writer says.
Implementing a strategy that will meet the demands of an ever-expanding population while remaining conscious to climate change and the risk that it continues to pose is of the utmost importance, the writer says.
Image: THINKSTOCK

The Covid-19 pandemic has taken us back to a time where the world didn't have poor air quality and greenhouse gases. As countries worldwide went into lockdown, a noticeable difference in our environment began to emerge.

After many years, the Himalayas Mountains have become visible from kilometres away due to a reduction in air pollution. This has allowed us to look at what the future could hold if we all work towards a more sustainable future.

While we have reached a good place in reducing our carbon footprint, this needs to be taken further to support climate action. We need to continue building on our current progress to support the transition into a low carbon future while not losing momentum.

With many people being forced to work from home and practice social distancing, our carbon emissions have dropped drastically, but it has also put a lot more strain on our power supply. Implementing a strategy that will meet the demands of an ever-expanding population while remaining conscious to climate change and the risk that it continues to pose is, therefore, of the utmost importance.

The reality is that we cannot separate sustainable energy security and climate change. The two are interlinked and reliant on one another. The greenhouse gas emissions released through fossil-fuel generated power is one of the biggest contributors to increased global temperatures.

Unfortunately, a stable power supply is essential in allowing an economy to function and thrive. We, therefore, need a reliable and sustainable solution to providing power without harming our environment even further.

The physical and transitional impacts of climate change is a serious threat to our business and society. It requires immediate action to reduce the effects both locally and globally.

We are aware of the role that fossil fuel-generated power has in releasing greenhouse gases and contributing to climate change. Therefore, we have taken a strategic decision to develop the necessary policies and programmes to begin the transition to a low carbon future.

On March 12 2020, we published our climate change position statement, which contains our aspirational target to be carbon neutral by 2050.

A decrease in the share of coal in the global energy mix is predicted in the long-term, but this doesn't mean that it will no longer be a source of energy. It will remain relevant in the production of electricity in SA for the foreseeable future.

This ties in perfectly with the Just Energy Transition initiative that we are a part of with industry groups.

We believe that renewable energy resources can play a significant role in the supply power in Africa, provide greater economic participation and security of previously marginalised communities and access to affordable energy while keeping our communities healthy and resilient to the impact of climate change.

The Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) allows us to further enhance our climate change disclosure by analysing the financial implications associated with climate change risks, as well as opportunities. Together, we share a 2050 goal of becoming carbon neutral - keeping temperature increases below 2ºC as per the Paris Agreement to limit global warming.

As we strive towards powering better lives in Africa and beyond, it is imperative that we carefully consider our prospects to ensure they align with our climate change initiatives.

*Veti is executive head of sustainability at Exxaro

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