Conference can kick-start green economy
COP17 could turn out to be the catalyst that kickstarts South Africa's green economy, according to Wilderness Foundation director Andrew Muir.
Speaking at the climate summit in Durban yesterday, Muir said once serious green investment begins, the fight can be taken to climate change, with solar power in the vanguard.
"Once this happens, it will be a whole different ball game.
"Everyone is asking 'how do we kick-start this green economy'? The answer is, we inject the money, and then we connect the dots. Hopefully, COP17 is going to be the key that turns the lock."
One example of what a difference green investment could make lies in the roll-out of solar water geysers, Muir said.
"If one of these devices was installed in every household in this country, we would not have to build two new coal-fired power stations, as we are doing.
"If we used the R1-trillion government is set to spend launching its nuclear programme on this solar geyser roll-out instead, on putting rainwater tanks in every garden and building our own wind turbines instead of importing them, we would create new, sustainable industries and hundreds of thousands of jobs, and we would improve our skills base."
Muir, a Rolex Awards laureate and most recently recipient of the Ernst & Young World Awards in the social entrepreneur category, was speaking at Oasis, a sustainable development hub, on the sidelines of COP17.
"So we need to put money now into research and development in this sector, so we can build our skills capacity and then start building our own turbines. The more local you go, the better the jobs and skills benefits get, the less carbon is being generated in getting it here, and the greener it gets," Muir said.