Sweden to help SA develop clean energy

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Cape Town - The Swedish government has promised to help South Africa develop more renewable energy sources as the two countries vow to fight the devastating effects of climate change.

Briefing the media following their meeting in Tuynhuis on Wednesday, Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe and Sweden Deputy Prime Minister Maud Olofsson both committed themselves to working towards cleaner energy ahead of the climate change talks in Mexico later this year.

While South Africa relies heavily on coal for its energy, Sweden is committed to clean energy with 50 percent of that country's energy coming from renewable energy sources.

Olofsson said Sweden supports the World Bank's loan to power utility Eskom and has defended South Africa's use of coal. "South Africa is not alone; there are many countries that use coal as the main source of energy as they grow their economies," she said.

Motlanthe said the scope of the discussion in the meeting on national, regional and global issues of common interest confirmed "the longstanding, sincere and mutually beneficial relationship" between the countries.

Both countries emphasised the importance of a truly global legally binding agreement on mitigating the effects of climate change. They said the Copenhagen accord, reached in Denmark, should give direction to the negotiations leading up to a global agreement under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

They agreed that all countries have a responsibility to take action in line with the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and that South Africa will play a key global role as host of COP17.

On the political situation in Zimbabwe, the meeting noted the importance of implementing the Global Political Agreement signed by President Robert Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai in 2008.

President Jacob Zuma is in Harare as part of his continuing engagement to ensure stability in that country.

"We want to continue our dialogue with Zimbabwe but we also want to see the implementation of the global political agreement," Olofsson said.

Sweden is a major member of the European Union which has placed economic sanctions on Zimbabwe.