4 Reasons Why South Africa Should Not Invest In Gas
In January the South African government held public hearings on the Gas Amendment Bill. Why should you care? As the government itself has said, this Bill will affect every single person in South Africa. Through this Bill, an Amendment of the Act, the government is, in essence, creating an enabling environment for promoting exploration of fossil fuels and further development of the oil and gas industry. Fossil fuel emissions are causing climate change and exacerbate existing damage to our natural heritage. Here are 4 reasons why South Africa should not extract new sources of gas or oil:
- The Offshore Oil And Gas Fields That Will Be Developed In The Oceans Will Destroy Livelihoods.
From the West Coast to the East Coast, coastal fishers have repeatedly stressed their deep concerns about the loss of their livelihoods at the Gas Amendment Bill public hearings. Mr Christian Adams, representing the Steenberg Cove fisher community, proclaimed on a platform provided at the Saldanha public hearing in White City Multipurpose Centre, that the exploitation of offshore gas will likely cause fish to move away from fishing areas, and that the regulations would reduce the areas in which fishers could practise their livelihoods. Many fishers are worried about the impacts of environmental degradation of oil and gas on the oceans and added that the sea was the source of their sustenance and spirituality and culture significance.
There are limited job opportunities in the gas industry for local communities. For example, when extensive natural gas deposits were discovered in Mozambique’s offshore waters, whole communities were forcibly removed from state-owned land after granting mining and exploration concessions to private companies. Thousands of people, who had previously farmed and fished, were left without viable livelihoods because they lack the necessary skills to work within the extractive sector.
Saldanha Bay community members protest against the Gas Amendment Bill
2. Gas Is Not Green (Climate-Friendly)
Climate change is not a myth. It is real and the International Energy Agency (IEA) report has unequivocally stated that if the world is to avoid irreversible climate change, there can be no new investments in fossil fuels. The Centre for Environmental Rights (CER) sums this up: “[Liquid Natural Gas] is neither clean nor particularly low in emissions.”
3. Gas is Not Going To Be A Bridge To The Green (Sustainable Energy)
There is an often-quoted theory that investment in gas will allow the country to transition from the use of fossil fuel energy to renewable energy. However, the extensive and expensive investments that are required to develop a gas industry in the country would include the manufacture and layout of pipelines, liquefaction facilities, export terminals, and tankers and this all creates, by default, a new fossil fuel dependence. This massive investment creates an economic setting in which fossil fuels is encouraged and subsidized, rather than disincentivized. This will make the transition to low-carbon and no-carbon energy even more difficult.
Gas Amendment Bill public hearings in Saldanha
4. Gas Is Not Going To Bring In The Green (Money)
The Green Connection report, A Literature Review of the Socioeconomic Consequences of Offshore Oil and Gas Activities in South Africa, showed that , forecasted economic benefits were not met, especially those relating to government revenues, in twelve Sub-Saharan African countries which had exploited oil and gas deposits between 2001 and–2020. In fact the economic outlook of these countries has changed, with many of them facing a debt-repayment crisis. There are also are numerous climate-related financial risks, including transition risk — the problem of stranded assets, negative effects on trade and competitiveness, and the physical risks of climate change itself.
For example, the Mozambique government revenues for their gas industry were lower than projected. There is no shortage of natural gas in Mozambique, but the models underestimated the costs to bring the gas to the market. These models’ forecasts incorrectly assumed early first exports, the rapid expansion of production capacity, and very high Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) prices.
If you are a savvy, green, risk-averse South African, you should be echoing Mr Adams of Steenberg Cove: “We request the Minister of Energy and Mineral Resources, the Portfolio Committee and the departments, that a moratorium is placed on all gas and all oil developments that are currently taking place in our oceans”.
Written By: Christy Bragg