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Friday, 04 May 2012 19:31

Petrol Prices go up, but will South Africa Go Green?

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Petrol Prices go up, but will South Africa Go Green? Image: flickr/ Za3tOoOr!

Nicole Wilcox: With increases in tolling systems and electricity, consumers hop on other bandwagons instead of turning green.

The petrol price has gone up higher than Snoop Dogg on a platinum album and what are we doing about it besides complaining? At R11, 59 per litre the increase has had consumers asking what actually goes into the price of petrol.


With the additions of fuel levies, customs excise duty costs, the national road accident fund and tax costs the Department of Energy claims that the increase is way out of their hands. The supply and demand for crude oil and exchange rates also contribute to the total amount we see filling up our tanks.

Will the price hike see people trading in their four wheels for two? I do not foresee South Africans making any drastic changes just yet however they will curb their enthusiasm with regards to petrol consumption.

People would take public transport or cut out long holiday drives, but I doubt that they would be dying to trade their Mercedes SLK keys for a Prius or a Vuka when petrol prices get daunting. UCT’s Green Campus Initiative has created the Campus Carpooling system, which encourages students to travel in groups while gaining access to parking closer to campus.

How many students use the system as a conscious effort to save the environment and how many students simply do it for the parking spot? Either way I believe this system to be environmental and wallet-friendly too. Dane, a member of GCI comments that he would love to see South African’s installing solar panels and making use of renewable energy sources, but does not expect everyone to jump straight into it. “It costs quite a lot especially in South Africa and it’s not really made publicly known.

The government doesn’t say to people you should try this or you should try that to deal with the petrol price increases and the electricity,” Dane also acknowledges that businesses do play a major role in advocating change as companies such as Woolworths  invest in environmental projects to lower their own emissions and expenditures.

Businesses also offer consumers a chance to take part in creating change such as Nedbank’s Green Affinity account, which donates to a Green Trust on the account holder’s behalf. Consumers feel as if they are “doing their bit” by hopping onto others’ bandwagons instead of tackling the issue alone. The government should also play a part in creating awareness of greener alternatives – besides eating beetroot of course.

The government’s efforts to go as green as the Hulk can be seen in its production of SA’s first electric battery-driven car, the Joule. Science and Technology Minister Naledi Pandor reported in parliament that the project will require R9 billion to commercialise the Joule. Developed by Optimal Energy the Joule is not too harsh on the eyes and reaches a top speed of 135km/h.

Ok, so it’s no Ferrari Spider, but you are no Michael Schumacher. The Joule’s price has not yet been decided, as its release and sale is only due in 2014. Going green is not something I see as a priority for any South African as implementing changes across the board may prove to be pretty pricey.

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