South Africa, a country to watch: Before we begin to look at the issue of sustainability that affects South Africa, we note a couple points on the country:
- South Africa is a rapidly-developing country that maintains the largest African economy.
- The country was admitted to BRICS, a group of emerging national markets previously composed of only Brazil, Russia, India, and China, in 2011.
While South Africa and other developing countries face strong levels of economic growth due to the low hanging fruit found in the early stages of economic development, that growth generates high levels of carbon emissions – those higher than in developed countries. However, the negative global effects of these emissions have put the issue on the developed countries’ radar, drawing increasing focus by world leaders.
Hence, many developed countries have banded together, committing funds to combatting such high global levels of carbon emissions. In the McNicoll et al. paper “Estimating publicly-mobilised private finance for climate action: A South African case study,” the authors note a commitment by developed countries to contribute USD 100 billion per year by 2020. As a result, their research goal was to monitor and track both public and private climate finance. Their findings “suggest that, in the South African context, domestic public actors play the biggest role in mobilization by providing support through targeted policies.” So while this issue is a macroeconomic one, it seems that it is being handled rather internally in South Africa.
One way the government of South Africa is promoting sustainability: the ‘New Growth Path’, set out in the Green Economy Accord. The plan suggests that development of ‘green’ technologies, such as in manufacturing of renewable energy technologies, recycling, and biofuels, can lead to the creation of millions of jobs. The South African government not only wants to show a commitment to sustainability and facilitating the development of green technologies but also views this mission as a pathway to economic development and stronger industrial and innovation sectors in the country.
Things to consider:
- How does the way the country has responded to carbon emissions differ from the response of an OECD country, for example? Or if you have done research on your developing country: how does South Africa’s response of targeted policies differ from the response of your developing country?
- Furthermore, should climate change be a high priority for South Africa and other developing countries, or should they simply focus on economic growth and then turn to sustainability? Is it fair to possibly limit economic growth through foreign interference, or is it for the greater good?
- How can a country strike a balance between sustainable energy practices and economic development? Given that transitions to renewables can be expensive, what are ways that a developing country can make renewable energy production and consumption accessible?
–Matt & Carson