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SA shouldn’t be exploring new fossil fuels - Greenpeace Africa warns

Greenpeace Africa says one of the key issues surrounding the discovery of gas in the country is how it will affect climate change.

A Total oil and gas exploration rig. Picture: Total Facebook page

JOHANNESBURG - Greenpeace Africa says South Africa should not waste precious time by exploring for new fossil fuels, but rather spend time trying to figure out how to shift away from existing energy resources.

The organisation made the comment following President Cyril Ramaphosa’s announcement during the State of the Nation Address last week that Total had made a significant gas condensate discovery on the Brulpadda prospects in the Outeniqua basin, 175 kilometres off the southern coast of South Africa.

Greenpeace says one of the key issues surrounding the discovery is how it will affect climate change.

Greenpeace's spokesperson Melita Steele says a report released by the intergovernmental panel on climate change last year revealed that in order to avoid the worst impact of climate change, the world has 12 years to act and turn away from fossil fuels.

“Because we don’t have a lot of time, we shouldn’t be exploring for new fossil fuels. We need to stop this madness of searching for more because we do live in a carbon-constrained world and we can’t afford to continue to act as if we don’t.”

Steele says despite the discovery being a major boost for South Africa’s ailing economy as hailed by Mineral Resources Minister Gwede Mantashe, there can never be economic development at any cost.

“We have reached a point where things like social and environmental justice have to be centred in terms of economic development as well. And that means people’s right to a healthy environment also has to be taken into consideration.”

She added that climate change is an existential threat, which means humans may not be able to survive living on earth.