Comparing me to Trump is an insult, Mantashe claps back at renewables jibe | Fin24
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Comparing me to Trump is an insult, Mantashe claps back at renewables jibe

Oct 23 2019 18:48
Khulekani Magubane, Fin24

Minister of Mineral Resources Gwede Mantashe on Wednesday did not take kindly to Members of Parliament in the opposition who compared him to United States President Donald Trump in defending coal energy.

Mantashe was responding to questions at the National Assembly when he insisted that government would not budge from the "just transition" towards renewable energy and South Africa's energy mix.

In a plenary considering the Budgetary Review and Recommendation Report of Portfolio Committee on Mineral Resources and Energy, Mantashe told MPs that government had to consider the impact of moving away from coal power on the economy and mining towns.

The latest version of Integrated Resource Plan was released last week and, while mostly praised, observers raised concern that it left considerable room for coal power to continue contributing significantly to the energy mix.

In replying to a question from Freedom Front Plus MP Wynand Boshoff, Mantashe said that South Africa remained committed to reducing carbon emissions but would do so taking the "just transition" into account.

He said South Africa was not as developed as European and western economies and that holding South Africa to the same standard as these advanced economies when it came to reducing emissions would hobble South Africa's economic and industrial ambitions.

In his follow-up question, Boshoff asked Mantashe if there was a detailed "exit strategy" from coal that would allow South Africa to migrate to renewables. However, Boshoff he added a quirky jibe to his question.

'I give you freedom to insult me'

"I am glad that the minister reaffirmed his commitment to the environmental and scientific consensus.

"For a moment, before this energy plan was announced, I thought he might be in cahoots with a highly regarded climatologist like Mr Donald Trump in being committed to a fossil fuel economy," said Boshoff, to some laughter in the National Assembly.

Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy Gwede Mantashe did not take kindly to the quip and maintained that government was not in the business of driving the agenda of any specific energy technology but a just transition.

"Comparing me to Trump is an insult. But I give you the freedom to insult me.

"What I am saying is that the department is not a lobby group for any particular type of technology. We are still pursing a just transition as is outlined by the IRP," said Mantashe.

Mentioning the coal mining town of Hendrina in Mpumalanga, Mantashe said if all coal was decommissioned at once with too much haste, it would lay waste to towns which were built around collieries.



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