South-Africa and France facing climate change together [fr]

France and South Africa, facing climate change together

Climate change presents the world with unprecedented challenges: increases in natural disasters (drought, floods, hurricanes), rising sea levels, ocean acidification, depletion of water resources and strains on agricultural production. In facing these challenges however, we are presented with a source of economic and social opportunities to transform our societies and establish a pattern of greener, more environmentally friendly economic growth and create jobs.

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France and South Africa show their shared commitment in the fight against climate change


As part of their respective presidencies of the G20 and the COP17, France and South Africa have pledged to work towards mobilizing sustainable and predictable resources in the fight against climate change including using innovative financing. They also agreed, along with the European Union, to work together to achieve significant progress in international negotiations on climate change in order to establish a fair and equitable global regime after 2012. They further share the objective of promoting a low carbon economy in all countries, while seeking to develop green technologies.

France and South Africa are aware of the urgency to act and their responsibilities in this area

South Africa is a country with high energy intensity and a significant emitter of greenhouse gas emissions. This is due to an industrial sector which is a heavy consumer of energy, the dominance of coal in energy balance as well as low energy efficiency sectors in power generation, mining and industry.

The country has set itself ambitious goals in the fight against climate change. In Copenhagen President Jacob Zuma pledged to reduce South Africa’s greenhouse gas emissions by 34% by 2020 and 42% by 2025, compared to the base growth scenario. Although these commitments have been made conditional on financial and technological transfers from developed countries, South Africa has adopted a proactive approach, in deciding major policies such as its plan for the electricity sector over the next twenty years (Integrated Resource Plan 2010) which provides for a doubling of production capacity, with, in 2030, 27.3% of capacity coming from renewable energy, a decrease in the share of coal from 85% to 45.9% and 12.7% to come from nuclear energy. In October 2011 the government also published the National Climate Change Response White Paper, which specifies its strategy in the fight against climate change.

Among the industrialised nations, France is one of the lowest emitters of greenhouse gases and it already complies with commitments it made under the first commitment period of Kyoto Protocol. It places the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions at the heart of its policies. If the energy-climate package (CSP) embodies the response of the European Union to the urgency of the situation, the “Grenelle Environment Process” defines the objectives and represents the road map of France. The two main objectives of the fight against global warming are: firstly, mitigate its effects to contain climate change within the 2°C range through collective and sustained efforts and secondly to adapt to its human, territorial and economic impacts.

Under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, France translates its commitments into concrete actions by increasing financial contributions to international cooperation in the fight against climate change. As part of the early funding so-called "fast-start" from the Copenhagen Accord, France is committed to a contribution of 1.26 billion Euros over the period 2010-2012, 20% specifically for forestry.

France supports the South African policies in the areas of energy and climate

This cooperation is guided in particular by the roadmap on energy signed on March 2, 2011 during the state visit of President Jacob Zuma to France. It is the symbol of a dynamic and innovative partnership. In the nuclear field, both countries agreed to strengthen exchanges in research and development and undertake joint projects in engineering, training in safety and radioactive waste management. This partnership took the form of cooperation agreements between NECSA (South African Nuclear Energy Corporation) and the French company AREVA in the fields of nuclear fuel and other technologies and with the Atomic Energy Commission and Alternative Energy (CEA) in promoting understanding by the general public on nuclear issues as well as cooperation on issues related to research and development of civilian nuclear power. The roadmap also plans to develop cooperation in the fields of energy efficiency and innovative financing: the French Agency for Environment and Energy Management (ADEME) will support the creation of a new South African agency dedicated to energy efficiency.

The development of a low emission energy sector, engine of sustainable growth is a strategic priority for the French Development Agency (AFD) in South Africa


A public financial institution active in more than 60 countries, the AFD is at the heart of the French public support and cooperation for the benefit of poor and emerging countries. It has been present in South Africa since 1994. In 2011, the AFD has developed three major strategic lines in the energy and climate change sectors, namely the expansion of partnerships with municipalities on climate change, the development of renewable energy projects in South Africa and the region as well as support the government and public sector in South Africa towards a green economy.

Municipalities. The AFD has provided a €6M loan to the municipality of eThekwini (Durban) for landfill gas to electricity project which is expected to save, over 12 years, the equivalent of 6.8 million tons of CO2. A second loan for investment in renewable energy and energy efficiency, principally in the water and public building sectors is currently under discussion with the municipality.

Banks and the private sector. The AFD is finalizing a credit facility of € 120 million for three financial institutions in South Africa dedicated to supporting energy efficiency and renewable energy investment in the industrial and commercial sectors.

Parastatals. In 2011 the AFD finalized, with a contribution of € 100 million, a partnership with ESKOM to co-finance its proposed 100MW wind farm in the Northern Cape. The Agency will also participate in the future development of a solar concentration plant of 100MW in the Northern Cape.

Public agencies and research institutions. The AFD has provided a technical assistance grant to the CEF, responsible for identifying and promoting energy efficiency projects and also supports the South African Carbon Capture and Storage Centre, and research teams of the DBSA.

In the Region. The AFD is active in Mozambique, Namibia, Zambia and Botswana where it supports renewable energy projects and hydropower, as well as regional integration, through grid interconnection projects such as the Caprivi Link Interconnector, between Zambia and Namibia, which was commissioned in November 2010.

French research is also active on the theme of climate change in South Africa

The Centre for International Cooperation in Agronomic Research for Development (CIRAD) and the University of Pretoria are working to minimize the impact of climate change. They are seeking innovative solutions such as diversification for small farms, which are particularly vulnerable to climate change. They also study the spread of parasites, insect vectors of human diseases, and invasive plants likely to affect biodiversity, and whose propagation modes are highly dependent on climate change.

France and South Africa have also established a joint research institute of oceanography (ICEMASA) based at the University of Cape Town, one of whose missions is to produce computer models of changes in the atmosphere and oceans to produce quantitative data on climate change and its impact on marine life. ICEMASA also organizes workshops and seminars for education. This project brings together the Department of Water and Environmental Affairs and the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, the Centre for Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR) and University of Cape Town from the South African side, the Institute of Research and Development (IRD), the National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS), and the universities of Brest and Montpellier from the French side.

The Alliances Françaises in Southern Africa pilot sustainable development

Launched by the Alliance Française of Port Elizabeth in October 2008 and expanded throughout the entire Alliance Française network, the Indalo ("nature" in Xhosa) project’s main objectives are reducing the carbon footprint of the Alliances and raising public awareness of environmental issues.

In this context, the Alliance Française of Durban launched a major project to adapt its premises and implement and eco-friendly model. This includes work on the sources and management of energy (solar panels, rainwater tanks) on the green spaces (native plants, vegetable garden) and recycling. COP 17 will mark the official launch of the project by the private and public partners that support and finance the initiative.

Students of Lycée Jules Verne in Johannesburg and the Ecoschool programme

The French School in Johannesburg, Lycée Jules Verne got the label "green flag" in 2010 as part of the South African program Ecoschool, an international project developed by WWF that provides schools with sustainable development projects related to school curricula. In 2011 the 75 teachers and 800 students participated in various activities: including planting native trees within the school grounds, creating a pond as a place of teaching practice and scientific observation on the evolution of amphibian animals and plants, a project studying the possibility of setting up tanks for rainwater collection.

Support for civil society

From the Civil Society Development Fund, the Embassy of France has funded several projects of South African NGOs to promote community participation in the operation and sustainable management of services such as access to water and energy, waste management or conservation of biodiversity. In partnership with the eThekwini Municipality (Durban), the association Mvula Trust has published "Raising Citizens’ Voice," a booklet regarding the water cycle and energy together with ideas to reduce consumption and help communities adapt to climate change.

French companies to help meet the challenges of South Africa

Preventing a Water Crisis

South Africa is facing serious challenges in the field of water, especially regarding the sustainability of resources (currently 98% of available resources are used), deteriorating infrastructure and lack of industrial equipment.

French companies such as Veolia Water Solutions & Technologies and GDF-Suez through Degremont and its technical partner, WSSA, work with their South African partners (municipalities, industries, mines) to construct and operate water treatment plants or desalination stations. Other companies such as Ingerop, SPC, Soletanche Bachy and Bureau Veritas provide technical expertise in advanced engineering, installation, construction or certification in transport infrastructure and water treatment.

Veolia Water Solutions & Technologies South Africa is also involved in the fight against the major problem posed by rising mineral acid levels in water by working with Mintek, combining the water treatment technologies of the French company and the treatment processes of acidic water of the public entity that specializes in mining research.

Participating in the renewable energy adventure

Renewable energy should account for nearly half of all new electricity generation capacity to be built by 2030 under the terms of South Africa’s Integrated Resource Plan 2010. Several French companies have offered their services in these areas (solar, wind and hydro-electricity): Soitec, Sechilienne Sidec, EDF Energies Nouvelles, Innowind, Coruscant, Schneider Electric, Tenesol, SolaireDirect. Many of these companies will participate in the call for projects of the South African Department of Energy launched in August 2011 and will accompany South Africa in its transformation to reduce energy dependence on coal which currently accounts for 93% of electricity produced in the country.

In partnership with the French national electricity company, EDF, and with the support of the South African authorities, Total launched a program of decentralized rural electrification by solar energy in 2002 at the Earth Summit in Johannesburg. It plans to supply electricity to 15,000 households, or 90 000 people, located in the central part of the province of KwaZulu-Natal, not connected to the electricity grid. This project was extended in 2007 to the Eastern Cape Province following an agreement with the South African Department of Energy.

The French company Alstom will fund a chair of excellence in the field of renewable energy at the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, which will be inaugurated on 1 December 2011. Schneider Electric, in collaboration with the Vaal University of Technology (VUT) and the French Ministry of Education will open a vocational training centre in the fields of energy and electricity in March 2012.

Offering safe, low-carbon energy through nuclear technology

South Africa has confirmed its commitment to nuclear power in its plan for the electricity sector over 20 years. 78% of electricity in France comes from nuclear technology. The French companies that are already involved in the construction, operation and maintenance of the only nuclear power plant in South Africa and even the whole of Africa (Areva, Alstom and EDF in particular) stand by their South African counterparts in order to provide advanced technology and equipment. Regular exchanges between South African and French companies show the vitality of relations and highlight the shared understanding for the need to focus on safety.

Using energy more efficiently

South Africa is a heavy consumer of electricity. It has put in place measures to reduce demand: program management application by the electricity utility Eskom in collaboration with industry and households; laws tightening energy standards for new buildings which will come into force in November 2011. French companies are present in this sector through various projects and partnerships: supporting a pilot project to build a low energy school (Arcelor Mittal Construction), providing a tool to analyze the energy performance of buildings (Bureau Veritas), improving living conditions in public housing through the use of high performance materials (Lafarge), supplying equipment for detecting the presence of compensation for active energy (Legrand), supplying roof insulation elements produced entirely from recycled materials (Onduline ), providing integrated solutions for all types of buildings and industrial processes (Schneider Electric).

Facilitating travel and transport to limit air pollution

The development of rail transport has become a priority for the South African government. This is a major challenge for South Africa which will reduce the reliance on road transport. In addition to the participation of French companies Bouygues Construction, RATP Développement in the Gautrain project (linking Johannesburg CBD, OR Tambo International Airport and Pretoria), other companies such as Alstom, Thales, Faiveley, Vossloh Cogifer, Egis, Systra , SNCF, are ready to engage with PRASA and Transnet to the success of their plans for large-scale development.

publie le 30/06/2014

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