You are on page 1of 3

334 Spalding-Fecher

■ outlook: book review

Achieving local sustainable development and
emissions reduction
Cleaner energy, cooler climate: developing sustainable energy solutions for
South Africa

Harald Winkler; Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) Press, Cape Town, South Africa, 2009,
ISBN 978 7969 2230 4

Reviewed by Randall Spalding-Fecher*

Econ Pöyry, South Africa

At the launch of Harald Winkler’s latest book, South Africa’s represented a fraction of the costs of the impacts of climate
Minister of Environmental Affairs and Tourism, Marthinus van change should have put this debate to bed, but it continues
Schalkwyk, introduced the work by saying, ‘there are two to rage. In addition, ‘bottom-up’ studies have almost always
types of academics: one that takes simple ideas and makes shown more opportunities for saving money while reducing
them sound very complicated, and the other that takes GHG emissions than ‘top-down’ studies, largely because of
complex ideas and explains them in a way that is simple to the underlying assumptions in the modelling approaches
understand. Professor Winkler is one of the latter.’ Winkler (i.e. engineering and micro-economics versus neoclassical
has demonstrated this in his new book, which sets out to macro-economics).
answer the question of whether national energy policies that The contrast between scientific understanding of the
both promote local sustainable development and also reduce alarming threat of climate change and the painfully slow
greenhouse gases can make a major contribution to climate pace of the negotiations becomes greater by the day. The
change mitigation, using South Africa as a case study. This perceived conflict between development and climate change
analysis could not come at a more appropriate time, when mitigation is one of the many stumbling blocks in the
the international climate change negotiations, and in particular negotiations, which is why Winkler’s book is so important.
the role that actions by developing countries will play in the One of the pillars of the Bali Action Plan is quantifiable
overall climate agreement architecture, are at the centre of mitigation actions in developing countries that are ‘nationally
international politics and economic policy. appropriate’ and occur in ‘the context of sustainable
Since the earliest IPCC climate assessments and development’. This book sets out to identify examples of
economic analyses of climate change, the policy community such actions, and to test the contribution of energy policies
has debated how much it costs to mitigate climate change to both sustainable development and GHG mitigation within
and whether there is a conflict between mitigation and a specific country context.
continued economic and social development in poorer Cleaner Energy, Cooler Climate presents an analysis of
countries. The high costs of mitigation were used as an excuse energy policies in South Africa in two sectors – residential
by previous US administrations for inaction, while the possible energy consumption and electricity supply. While industrial
trade-offs between climate change mitigation and meeting and commercial energy consumption and transportation
basic human needs made major developing countries are considered briefly in the policy overview, the modelling
reluctant to engage in any discussion about emissions and detailed analysis only covers residential energy and
reductions. The Stern Review’s clear conclusion that electricity supply. In each of these sectors, Winkler uses
mitigating climate change was not only affordable but also energy modelling, indicators of sustainable development,

■ *E-mail:

CLIMATE POLICY 9 (2009) 334–336
doi:10.3763/cpol.2009.0657 © 2009 Earthscan ISSN: 1469-3062 (print), 1752-7457 (online)

CP_9_3__book_rev.pmd 334 4/24/2009, 12:23 PM

e. because it allows policy-makers drivers and technologies that has been developed at the to take social and economic objectives such as poverty University of Cape Town over the last 10 years. there is a scenario for higher on environmental benefits.9 cost change. impacts on different income groups is an important with a detailed ‘bottom-up’ database of both energy demand component of this work. 25 years Implicit abatement cost R/tCO2e –180 –9 48 –61 –50 CLIMATE POLICY CP_9_3__book_rev. for electricity supply. cost shown in Table 1 is estimated from the total change in PAMS). solar affordability and other socio-economic impacts. Note that is more expensive than the renewable power scenario. plus a the urgent need for action in these areas. 12:23 PM .pmd 335 4/24/2009. alleviation into account when evaluating policies.7 1. as well as a scenario that system costs (although not as much as imported hydro) combines all of these options. LPG for cooking. gas nuclear electricity hydro. where power shortages because the former only includes capital investment costs in in 2007 and 2008 threatened to cripple key sectors of the TABLE 1 Greenhouse gas impacts and costs of modelled scenarios Electricity supply Imported Imported hydro PBMR Renewable Combined (gas.9 0. and pebble-bed (i. that must be made in South Africa. MtCO2 e –0. 2012 international climate change agreements. summarized in Table 1. but the environmental benefits compared with coal are not The analysis. renewable energy technologies score Similarly. renewable electricity. Outlook: book review 335 and policy analysis to evaluate interventions that could qualify the year of the emissions reductions. social sustainability). SD-PAMs are measures that both contribute to local energy system costs over 25 years divided by total emissions sustainable development and reduce greenhouse gas reductions.9 10.9 –0. energy-efficient housing. the disaggregation of the modelling approach is dynamic optimization using MARKAL. of an individual intervention. but raise the costs of increased utilization of imported natural gas. The energy For residential energy. The The scenarios for residential energy options each consist consistently positive score of residential energy options. The implicit abatement as ‘sustainable development polices and measures’ (SD. Imported gas would bring down modular nuclear reactors (PBMR). New nuclear power technology has lower consistently positive local and global benefits. nuclear.4 –8 –1 –6 –8 2025 Energy system R(billion) –0. 25 years Implicit abatement cost R/tCO2e –4. 2025 Energy system R(billion) –0. points to water heating (SWH) and geyser blankets (GB). supply options.1 11. while as great and the dependence on imports could increase almost all of the interventions in the residential sector produce supply risks. imported the electricity system and therefore decrease affordability hydropower.8 22 Residential CFL Efficient LPG for SWH Residential houses cooking & GB combined Emissions reductions. the period. the abatement costs reported in the book are not This highlights not only the more difficult policy choices comparable to traditional abatement costing methodologies.6 –4.6 –11 28 4. renewable) Emissions MtCO2 e –14 –22 –33 –32 –40 reductions. including compact fluorescent not only for greenhouse gas reductions but for increased lamps (CFL). assuming that emissions grow linearly throughout emissions.6 –5 cost change. for electricity local and global emissions. and are one possible component of the post.8 –3. but the nuclear power scenario supply there may be more significant trade-offs. shows that. Within electricity scenario that includes all of the interventions combined.

e. generation. 336 Spalding-Fecher economy. Firstly. increased emissions in another). The clear presentation of the real point. then they are a major climate change negotiations. differentiated away excuses for inaction and by providing concrete approach to a future climate change agreements. of an overall framework for reducing emissions globally. Winkler’s contribution to this debate will help actions could be ‘measurable. policy-makers and students with the Clean Development Mechanism is a zero-sum game for an interest in South Africa. CLIMATE POLICY CP_9_3__book_rev. stands out as an exemplar for other work in this field. and also how SD. If commitments Secondly. it does not contribute to as well as the technical and economic characteristics of global emissions reductions. Winkler shows how these step forward. reportable and verifiable’ to ‘grease the wheels’ of the negotiations. but also the need for technology transfer and Because the actual emissions reductions from residential financing from industrialized countries to make the lower energy efficiency are dwarfed by the growth of coal-fired emission technologies viable in a developing-country power generation in South Africa. which is that these mechanisms are a critical part modelling methodology and assumptions. This is similar to the argument that. 12:23 PM . which can only be assessed in its entirety. in particular. it provides a detailed explanation of how to by developing countries to implement SD-PAMs provide implement SD-PAMs at a national level. both by taking mitigation actions as part of a multi-stage. any reductions in one country are offset by presentation of South African energy policy and institutions. part of the political basis for more aggressive emissions PAMs can be integrated into the overall architecture of the reductions in industrialized countries. examples of how to move ahead. But these arguments miss the different energy technologies. through its comprehensive emissions (i.pmd 336 4/24/2009. because resource for researchers. or even new natural gas context. it may be tempting to argue that relying only on The contribution of the book goes beyond a coherent those measures with ‘win–win’ sustainable development and and comprehensive analysis of energy policy options in climate change mitigation impacts will not significantly reduce these sectors. the book provides an important global emissions.