Sustainable Growth

Sunday, 19 June 2022

Beyond coal: opportunities to diversity the economies of Emalahleni and Steve Tshwete local municipalities

  • Year: 2022
  • Organisation: TIPS and Just Urban Transitions
  • Author(s): Gaylor Montmasson-Clair (TIPS), Lauren Hermanus (Adapt), Muhammed Patel (TIPS) and Peta Wolpe (Independent).
  • Countries and Regions: South Africa

The report unpacks the historical trajectory of coal-dependent economies in Mpumalanga and charts possible futures by analysing potential economic opportunities. It covers the past and present economic structure of coal-based municipalities in South Africa, and unpacks existing assets and liabilities. It then looks forward by diving into possible economic activities that could provide the basis for diversification and rejuvenation, and concludes with policy implications.

It is a collaboration between two initiatives. Trade & Industrial Policy Strategies (TIPS), with the National Labour and Economic Development Institute (NALEDI), in collaboration with Peta Wolpe, and supported by groundWork, worked together on fostering a just transition in South Africa’s coalfields, with a focus on Emalahleni and Steve Tshwete. This was funded by the United Kingdom Partnering for Accelerated Climate Transitions (UK PACT). The Just Urban Transitions project is led by Adapt and funded by Agora Energiewende, focusing on subnational development and implementation of South Africa's just transition.

A second report is available here: Local government toolbox for a just energy transition in South Africa.

Improving the governance of the transition to a a low-emissions economy, across spheres of government and sectors, means local risks and opportunities must be foregrounded. In addition, the local government toolbox for advancing a just transition – the policies, regulations, functions and processes – must be characterised and interrogated even as these tools are themselves in flux. This report identifies the multilevel governance implications for national and provincial government to better support local transitions. While the focus is on South Africa’s coal region, there is also broader relevance and applicability across the country.