Climate and energy research | WWF South Africa

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Climate and Energy Research

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Our fossil fuel reliant energy systems are driving unprecedented and irrevocable changes in our climate. We need to urgently modify and transition our energy system. How we go about this will determine all spheres of our economy, society and environment.

What is the issue?

South Africa has committed to reducing its greenhouse gas emissions under the Paris Agreement. Achieving these commitments will be dependent on achieving a low-carbon and just transition from a primarily coal-based energy system to one that is both diverse and flexible.

In order to ensure that such a transition also benefits people, significant research is required including studying global climate and energy trends and understanding their relevance in the South African context. This involves, amongst others, recognising the barriers for reducing dependence on fossil fuels, identifying enabling conditions for renewable energy sources to supply energy on an unprecedented scale, recognising the impact of a changing energy system in terms of jobs and skills development, making the transition work for alleviating inequality and poverty and creating the infrastructure necessary to support such changes.

What are we doing?

We conduct and commission research on contemporary issues related to climate change and energy transition with the aim of informing the national and sub-national policymaking processes.

How do we do this?

The credibility of our organisation hinges upon solid, evidence-based research. As thought leaders in issues relating to a just and sustainable future for all, we have a responsibility to ensure that we engage thoroughly with global research and trends and contextualise these to the South African reality.

We publish policy briefings, newspaper editorials and academic research  and ensure that they are accessible to wider stakeholders including policy makers, businesses and cities to influence not only national government policymaking, but also decision-making in business and municipalities.

Who do we work with?

We work with national and international research institutions, universities, businesses and municipalities as well as with our colleagues in the wider WWF network worldwide.

How did it start?

As climate issues have come to the fore over the past decade, there has been a growing need to translate climate policy into implementation by contextualising it in South Africa in terms of both mitigation and adaptation. To address this need, WWF, as a science-based organisation, has largely shifted from addressing issue-specific conservation to facilitating broad, systemic transformation for scaling up the impact of sustainable practices. To this end, WWF conducts and commissions research as a means to strengthen the evidence base for promoting sustainable practices.

What are the big wins?

  1. Our articles published in academic journals inform global policy making.

  2. We have published business cases supporting the adoption of sustainable measures in a range of sectors including energy, transport, waste and manufacturing.

  3. Published policy briefs exploring some of the likely impacts of a changing energy sector on jobs and considering ways to ensure that new jobs and skillsets are created.