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South Africa’s Easiest First Step to Climate Goal: No New Coal

Eskom Holdings Ltd. Power Stations as South Africa Seeks Coal Exit
Photographer: Waldo Swiegers/Bloomberg

South Africa is abuzz with plans to meet a more ambitious climate target it recently set, centered around how to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from coal-fired power plants.

The easiest first step could be not to build new plants. South Africa’s national Integrated Resource Plan, published in 2019, would add 1,500 megawatts of coal-fired generation by 2030. Cutting emissions to 350 megatons of carbon dioxide equivalent, the lower end of the range of the country’s revised target, or Nationally Determined Contribution, would require the earlier retirement of some of the fleet of 15 coal-fired plants along with no new builds, according to a note by Meridian Economics.