Stakeholders in the chemical sector have a duty to integrate the principles of green chemistry and green engineering into their manufacturing processes, says Minister of Science and Technology Naledi Pandor.

Pandor was speaking at the 5th International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) conference on green chemistry, held for the first time in South Africa.

Pandor pointed out that innovative breakthroughs in chemistry have led to the development of new technologies, processes and products that are found everywhere on earth. She highlighted the Department of Science and Technology’s (DST) green interventions in the mining and resource, bio-economy sector and energy sectors.

Energy storage

“The DST is developing a roadmap for energy storage. We are working with the Department of Energy to include hydrogen and fuel cell technologies in the Integrated Resource Plan, and with the Department of Trade and Industry to facilitate the deployment of fuel cells. We already have a coordinated approach through the formation of a Fuel Cells Solutions Task Team, and the Platinum Valley Special Economic Zone Steering Committee,” said Pandor.
Green economy

“Powerful forces are driving a green economic revolution worldwide, providing in the process a strong lever for broad-based economic development in many parts of the globe, and often re-orienting national development trajectories,” said Pandor. “South Africa, having one of the most carbon-intensive economies in the world, is no exception. Our government is strongly committed to unleashing the potential of the green economy.”

According to Pandor, the DST is focused on specific areas for research and development — including energy and the bio-economy — in which it intends to become world leaders.

In the DST and government believes that it can both create jobs and cut carbon emissions. “In our view the green economy offers a double dividend — more low-carbon jobs and less carbon emissions.”

Becoming world leaders

“[T]he National Development Plan endorses the need to move to a low carbon economy, while acknowledging that this transition will require innovative solutions. It is important for us to understand the implications of our development plans on future carbon emissions, to ensure that future growth is not carbon intensive,” said Pandor.

She argued that South African cities as well as those around the world need to become leaders in climate change mitigation and adaptation. South African cities in particular are affected by urban sprawl, which reduces biodiversity and increases transportation emissions.