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Green Economy Accord to create jobs, new investments

Posted On Monday, 21 November 2011 02:00 Published by
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The significance of the Green Economy Accord is that it will create the opportunity for business and labour to seize an opportunity that could create jobs while opening up new avenues for investment, says Economic Development Minister Ebrahim Patel

The accord was signed last Thursday in parliament with Patel and nine other government ministers signing along with representatives of organised labour and Business Unity SA and community representatives.

A key element of the accord was that the green economy could create about 300,000 jobs in the next 10 years should the opportunities be seized now.

Among the 27 points in the accord, government undertakes to install one million solar powered water heaters by 2014/15, that the insurance industry would promote the use of locally manufactured solar water geysers as replacements for damaged electric hot water geysers, organized labour would help form cooperatives to train retrenched employees to install such solar water heaters, and that government would procure 3,725 MW of renewable energy for use in the national grid by 2016.

There was also a commitment to use biofuels to power vehicles.

Also drawn into the accord was government's previously announced reinvestment in the country's rail infrastructure of R20 billion for new rolling stock and a further R10 billion to upgrade the rail system.

Transport Minister Sibusiso Ndebele said that the aim of the rail reinvestment was to make the railways the centre of moving goods and people throughout the country.

Patel said the accord was one of the most comprehensive social partnerships in the world and came about through discussions conduced under government economic policy, The New Growth Path.

In answer to a question from the media, Patel said the Green Economy Accord was the fourth such accord that has come about since government first announced the New Growth Path just more than a year ago. The other accords have been on basic education, skills development, and local procurement.

Patel said his department, which is the key driver of the New Growth Path, was developing another accord to focus on entrepreneurship and enterprise development.

"As we go along we plan to create accords specific to certain parts of the New Growth Path. We said from the beginning that a key ingredient of the New Growth Path was to have agreements, accords and so on signed along specific issues," he said.

The 10 government departments that signed the accord are Economic Development, Energy, Environmental Affairs, Transport, Trade & Industry, Labour, Public Enterprises, Rural Development, and Agriculture.

Organised labour included Cosatu, the National Congress of Trade Unions and the Federation of Unions of SA.

Business Unity SA represented organized business and community representations were drawn from women, youth and co-operatives and civic formations.

Mark Swilling, academic director at the Stellenbosch University Sustainability Institute, has described the signing of the accord as a "big deal", but complained that it was probably not ambitious enough.

"The most significant issue is that the potential of the green economy was being recognized and that it presented a whole bunch of new investment opportunities," he said.

Although government had committed itself to reducing the country's dependence on coal generated electricity from 95% to 60%, Swilling said renewable sources were not being used as they could be and that other countries had far more ambitious targets. "I think that renewables should contribute at least 40%," he said.

Cosatu General Secretary Zwelinzima Vavi said the accord was part of a push to make the economy more labour intensive and less reliant on capital.

"We now have the banks making up 22% of SA's GDP. We have to reverse that trend and this is the start," he said.


Publisher: I-Net Bridge
Source: I-Net Bridge
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