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Activists challenge gas industry myths at Energy Indaba

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By Lee-Yandra Paulsen

Environmental activist organizations Extinction Rebellion Cape Town (XR CT) and Green Connection made a poignant statement by staging a protest outside the African Energy Indaba’s opening day at the Cape Town International Convention Centre on Tuesday. Their aim was to challenge the narrative propagated by gas company executives.

“Gas company executives are intent on persuading South Africans that we actually need gas as a transitional fuel to replace our aging coal-fired electricity,” asserted XR CT spokesperson Jacqui Tooke, outlining one of the myths they sought to debunk.

Tooke highlighted the fallacy that renewable energy sources, such as solar and wind power, are unreliable due to their variability. She debunked this notion by citing the South Africa Presidential Climate Commission (PCC), emphasizing that “variable energy systems can achieve a secure power supply and are least cost.” Tooke emphasized the technical feasibility of securing power supply through oversizing renewable generation capacity and ensuring sufficient storage, as corroborated by numerous studies.

Moreover, Tooke raised concerns about the environmental impact of using gas as a fuel, particularly the leakage of methane into the atmosphere. She pointed out that while burning gas emits lower emissions than coal, methane leakage throughout the gas value chain exacerbates short-term global warming. Tooke underscored the significance of even small leakage percentages, asserting that they can render gas as harmful to the climate as coal.

Furthermore, she shed light on methane’s role as a primary contributor to ground-level ozone, a hazardous air pollutant responsible for numerous premature deaths annually.

Tooke also drew attention to the economic repercussions of relying on gas-fired power. She cautioned that countries in the global north are increasingly decarbonizing and may impose taxes on carbon-intensive imports. Consequently, South African goods produced using gas-fired power could face penalties, adversely affecting the economy.

VOC News

Photo: Supplied

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