Greenpeace Pushes Renewable Energy in S. Africa

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"Estimate that 78,000 green jobs could be created is conservative."

South Africa has renewable resources that can provide solutions to the country's energy problems and create jobs—while fighting global warming, Greenpeace said Wednesday.

"Greenpeace's estimate that 78,000 green jobs could be created is conservative," Glen Mpufane, who heads a development group that joined a Greenpeace gree- jobs forum on Wednesday.

Unemployment is around 25% in South Africa, which was hard hit by the global recession.

South African environmental groups are campaigning for a major move toward renewable energy rather than nuclear and coal energy. The government says it needs coal and nuclear energy now to grow, but plans to move toward renewable energy later.

"South Africa needs a paradigm shift in terms of renewable energy," said Olivia Langhoff, director of the Greenpeace jobs campaign.

Eskom, South Africa's state-owned electricity supplier, experienced a supply crisis in 2007 due to ailing infrastructure. That led to power rationing that hurt economic output.

"We are asking the government to be more ambitious in their targets of generating electricity from renewable energy," said Greenpeace's Melita Steele. "A minimum of 36% of the country's electricity should come from renewed energy sources by 2030."

World Wildlife Foundation Climate Change Program Manager Richard Worthington agreed. He said up to 55% of the country's power can be generated from renewables as it has very rich renewable resources.

In April, the World Bank approved a $3.75 billion loan to help South Africa build a major coal-fired plant in the north, though the U.S. and environmental groups have expressed worries about its impact.

South Africa is the only African nation among the 20 countries that emit nearly 90% of the world's greenhouse gases. South African environmental officials have a long-term plan to reduce emissions, but say, in the short term, the country needs polluting technologies to develop.

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