The University of Johannesburg (UJ)’s Sustainable Energy Technology and Research Centre (SeTAR) hosted Professor Klaus Topfër to engage the public and UJ’s Environmental Science and Geography students on sustainable energy solutions that South African communities could implement to fight high carbon emissions at a public lecture on Thursday, 23 February 2012 at the Arts Centre.
The lecture, organised around the theme Looking back, looking forward, Johannesburg WSSD summit +10 and Rio +20 and sustainability pathways to a low carbon economy, was aimed at seeking ways to foster ideas on sustainable carbon free communities in South Africa.
Prof Topfër said that in order for countries to develop, people needed to develop a common global and cultural identity on sustainable environmental issues. He also mentioned that companies should start using carbon as an asset to produce usable materials instead of ‘seeing it [carbon] as a predator to the environment.’
“It is not easy for communities to start using environmental friendly material, such as the burning of coal and wood to prepare food and perform daily household duties, as it may sound. It is, therefore, important that the government must align governance to the challenges of global sustainability,” said Prof Topfër.
Mr Joe Baleka, a community representative from Alexandra Township, also presented his insights on sustainable energy solutions following Prof Topfër’s address. Mr Baleka pleaded with the government and university academics to help poor people by providing them with necessary practical solutions that would make poor people’s lives better.
“Solar powered geysers donated to communities do not help hungry poor people. Cheap electricity will help eradicate poverty and carbon emissions, and also contribute to a healthy livelihood,” said Mr Baleka.
He suggested that the government and the South African university academics should plan with poor people on how to fight poverty, instead of planning for poor people.
The lecture was organised by UJ’s Sustainable Energy Technology and Research Centre (SeTAR).