No need for green tax

Janine Myburgh, president of the Cape Chamber of Commerce and Industry

The idea of a carbon tax to help bring about a cleaner and greener world is obsolete and will achieve nothing in South Africa.

Business has already got the message and has gone to great lengths to improve energy efficiency and is now turning to clean solar energy on an unprecedented scale.

The driving force has been the rocketing price of electricity and concerns about the security of supply. There is no way that a small carbon tax will make any difference. What the tax originally set out to achieve has been achieved and the whole idea is no longer valid except in terms of revenue collection.

Since the tax was first conceived, the cost of solar panels had declined dramatically and they now produce cheaper electricity than businesses could buy from the municipalities or Eskom.

In Gauteng, whole shopping malls are being designed to use their roof space as solar power stations to supply their own energy and feed the surplus into the grid.

Several business in the Western Cape have installed large solar capacity with the latest being the V&A Waterfront.

The Black River Office Park is another excellent example. It has 1 MW of rooftop solar capacity and sells the surplus to the City providing an example of business and local government working together.

The Airports Company had announced that it is to convert its smaller airports to run on solar power in order to “contain costs”.

It is now calculated that that a new PV solar installation will pay for itself in between four and six years. After that, it produces free electricity for the next 20 years.

The above examples offer clear evidence that commerce and industry are already reducing the size of their carbon footprints and adopting renewable energy on an unprecedented scale. No sticks or carrots are required.