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Greenwashing the Minister’s house February 4, 2008

Posted by Andreas in Climate change, Environment, Global warming, Politics, renewable energy, South Africa.

I don’t know how well known this story is (I found it in Peak Poison, the 2007 groundWoerk report), but I think it certainly bears re-publishing here. It would be funny if it wasn’t quite so ironic!

On 13 February 2006, Environment and Tourism Minister Marthinus Van Schalkwyk invited journalists to celebrate the “greening” of his ministerial residence in Cape Town. The occasion was the first anniversary of the coming into force of the Kyoto Protocol, and the start of Eskom’s Recovery Plan during the Cape Town blackouts. The makeover, by Eskom energy efficiency experts, included the installation of energy efficient lighting, solar water heating, better insulation, and other measures that would also be applied at the residences of other ministers and government leaders.

[…] Overall, the changes at [Van Schalkwyk’s] house would lead to “a 40% saving on the total energy consu,ed, with more than 80 litres of water, 31 kg of coal, and 56 kg of CO2 emissions saved every day. That’s more than 29,000 litres of water, 11,300 kg of coal, and 20,400 kg of CO2 in just one year – in just one home.”

On these figures, the profligate use of energy at the ministerial residence amounts to a climate crime even after making these savings:

Comparative CO2 emissions per year:

unelectrified low income home: 1.75t

electrified low income home: 2.3t

electrified high income home: 8.84t

Minister’s residence before savings: 51t

Minister’s residence after savings: 30,6t




1. Jenna Fox - February 11, 2008

I try to minimize my carbon footprint as best I can! What kind of example are these politicians if they can’t even practice what they preach.

2. Andreas - February 11, 2008

Ja well, they’re just that – politicians.

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