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Centre for Environmental Rights – Advancing Environmental Rights in South Africa

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Pollution & Climate Change

CER application to be admitted as amicus curiae in the City of Cape Town v NERSA and Minister of Energy (case no: 51765/2017)

The Centre for Environmental Rights (CER) is seeking to be admitted as amicus curiae (a friend of the court) in the application brought by the City of Cape Town against the National Energy Regulator (NERSA) and the Minister of Energy, which is focused on the question of whether municipalities have the power – legally – to procure electricity generation capacity in the absence of a determination from the Minister of Energy. The Constitutional obligations of local government to provide services are a central focus of the case.

The CER’s application seeks to highlight, and bring to the attention of the Court, the Constitutional obligations of local government to protect the environment, including people’s health and wellbeing. Not only does local government have a duty to provide affordable and accessible electricity services to people, but it also has a duty to provide clean and healthy electricity, which does not give rise to harmful air and water pollution or climate change.

The City of Cape Town’s plans to procure renewable energy capacity would be aligned with these Constitutional obligations, as local government has a vital role to play in decarbonising and transitioning the electricity sector from harmful fossil fuel-based electricity capacity to renewable (solar and wind) capacity.

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Section 24of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996

Everyone has the right to an environment that is not harmful to their health or well-being; and to have the environment protected, for the benefit of present and future generations, through reasonable legislative and other measures that prevent pollution and ecological degradation; promote conservation; and secure ecologically sustainable development and use of natural resources while promoting justifiable economic and social development.

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