Meeting SummaryPrior to the video link-up with the Parliament of the United Kingdom, the Committee was briefed by the Content Advisor and by representatives from the Association of European Parliamentarians for Africa (AEPA) on initiatives concerning climate change.
Members suggested questions that could be asked during the video conference. The need to develop effective communication strategies was mentioned and the planned public hearings on climate change in November 2009 were welcomed.
The Committee was joined by the Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs, the Chairperson of the House Committee, Members from the Portfolio Committees on Science and Technology and Rural Development and a representative from the British Consulate. The Parliament of the
Common ground between
Briefing by Content Advisor
The Chairperson said that it was important to prepare for the video conference with the Parliament of the
Ms Shireen Dawood, Content Advisor for the Committee, briefed Members on the reasons for and background to the initiative to engage with the Parliament of the
Ms Dawood explained that the Climate Change Committee was an independent statutory body, which advised Government on greenhouse gas emissions. Initially, this was the core objective but as the Committee processes evolved, it began to look at other aspects of climate change because greenhouse gas emissions were only one component of a bigger issue. One of the questions that could be asked was to what extent the Government of the
The Climate Change Act of 2008 made the
Mr G Morgan (DA) asked the Chairperson for guidance on how Members should respond to the questions posed by the Parliament of the
The Chairperson replied that the questions in the briefing document would be dealt with and there would be no restrictions on questions from Members or on questions from the Parliament of the
Ms A Lovemore (DA) proposed that questions were asked about how legislation in the
The Chairperson agreed that these questions could be raised as
Mr L Greyling (ID) proposed questions on how countries had managed to reach their
Ms M Shinn (DA), Member of the Portfolio Committee on Science and Technology, asked if questions could be raised about the
The Chairperson said that this would be acceptable.
Briefing by the Association of European Parliamentarians for
Ms Jessica Longwe, Director: Partner Relations; AEPA, briefed the Committee on the assistance that was available to South African Parliamentary Committees by the British Foreign Commonwealth Office. AEPA was currently providing assistance to Parliaments in
Ms Geetjie Hollenberg, Head of Office:
Ms H Ndude (COPE) said that she had found the recent AEPA conference very interesting as it highlighted the role
Mr Morgan asked about lobbying efforts to elevate the issue of climate change to discussions in Parliament. There was a need to develop a solid record of representing the people, to introduce legislation and to conduct oversight on the matter.
The Chairperson emphasised the importance of climate change and the need for a strategy to communicate on climate change.
Ms Ndude was pleased to hear about the plan to hold public hearings on climate change, as there was a need for the Committee to play a more pro-active role. She suggested that the Committee hosted a conference with experts from the non-governmental organisations involved in climate change.
Ms Susan Carter from the British Consulate in
Video Conference with Parliament of the
Mr Barry Gardiner, Member of Parliament of the
The Chairperson introduced Mr Obed Bapela (ANC), Chairperson of the House Committee responsible for oversight in the South African Parliament. The Honourable Buyelwa Sonjica, Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs and the Members of the Committee introduced themselves.
Mr Gardiner apologised for the absence of representatives from the Conservative Party and the Liberal Democratic Party. He explained that the Conservative Party was hosting a conference and Members of the party were unable to attend the video conference.
The Chairperson advised that the South African Parliament planned to host public hearings on climate change from the 14th to the 17th of November 2009 and was interested in learning how the
Mr Bapela said that the South African Parliament was prioritising climate change and hoped to explore and share information on establishing a Climate Change Committee. Twenty delegates from the Parliament of South Africa would attend the conference in
Mr Morgan asked for progress made in the implementation of the Climate Change Act. He requested comment on the functioning of the Climate Change Committee and when the first report of the Committee would be tabled.
Mr Gardiner replied that the Climate Change Act had already taken effect and asked Mr Fankhauser to explain further.
Mr Fankhauser explained that the Climate Change Committee was set up in shadow form in February 2008, in anticipation of the passing of the Climate Change Act. The Climate Change Act was passed in November 2008. The first report to the Parliament of the
Mr Fankhauser explained that the Climate Change Committee had eight members and was headed by the Chairman of the Financial Services Committee. The members of the Committee were technocrats. The Committee was supported by a Secretariat of 20 to 30 people. Members of the Secretariat were mostly civil servants, but included people with experience in industry and finance. The Committee met every three to four weeks, worked on a consensus basis and issued reports. The Committee consulted widely with industry and NGO’s to gather a greater sense of public thinking. Initiatives included dialogue with
Mr Luhenga (ANC) asked if any consideration was given to indigenous knowledge and appropriate technology to respond to or prevent further occurrences of climate change caused by natural disasters.
Mr Gardiner replied that there was a critical distinction between the context of the
Mr Luhenga asked why the budget was not the responsibility of the department responsible for water and environmental affairs in order to assist communities affected by disasters.
Mr Gardiner said that he absolutely agreed with Mr Luhenga regarding the location of the budget. Development and economic growth were inseparable and one could achieve development and economic progress in the developing world if environmental affairs were taken into consideration. Equally, the environment could only be preserved if one recognised the needs of developing countries. However, this position did not go down well in the
Mr Luhenga questioned whether the objectives of the Climate Change Committee were primarily to promote awareness or to respond to issues of climate change.
Ms Lovemore asked what advantages were advocated by the Parliament of the
Mr Gardiner advised that there was recognition by all sides of the Parliament of the
Ms Lovemore asked if people in the
Mr Gardiner replied that persuasion had not been easy in the public arena. Industry was asked to pay higher prices for fuels, resulting in an increase in the cost of manufactured goods to ensure sustainability. The task of persuading the public was equally difficult. The younger generation did have an appreciation and understanding of the global consequences and the effect of damage to the environment in the wider context.
The Chairperson welcomed the Honourable David
Ms Ndude said that a strong view was expressed at a recent AEPA conference that the developed world was not doing enough to assist the African continent and that the culprits in the developed world would be penalised by merely paying money. Money was not enough and the developed world needed to do more to address the issue of climate change.
Mr Kidney said that it was essential to make a deal in
Ms Ndude asked if stringent measures were in place to deal with industries, which were the biggest emitters of greenhouse gases.
Mr Kidney advised that the
Mr Gardiner informed the Committee of the Carbon Trust, an organisation created by the United Kingdom Government. The Trust was an independent organisation that assisted companies and businesses in making the transition to low-carbon production methods. It had been very helpful in making industries more carbon-efficient. Companies were able to take out loans, which were paid back by making use of cleaner technologies.
Ms Ndude asked about the challenges faced by the Parliament of the
Mr Fankhauser explained that the Climate Change Committee had three roles. The Committee advised Government on achieving carbon budget targets and the long term 2050 targets. The second role was the monitoring of compliance with the targets and the submission of an annual report to Parliament. The third role related to the adaptation to climate change. The first monitoring report was due on Monday, 12 October 2009. The report would include the statement that the country was roughly on track to meet the first three carbon budgets for the period 2008 to 2022. The Committee applied a combination of forward-looking and backward-looking analyses. The challenge was that a number of lead indicators were needed to monitor two, three, four or five years ahead to determine if emissions would be reduced. The Climate Change Committee had started to assess the renewable energy generation capacity currently under development, how long this would take, the progress made in pilot projects for carbon caption and storage, the planning process, the energy efficiency of housing (for example the number of houses that were adapted to be more energy-efficient), the energy efficiency of new cars sold, the number of electric cars under development and the market and price of electric cars. The Climate Change Committee was developing a set of lead indicators that would henceforth be monitored and the results would be included in an annual report to Parliament. The monitoring results could be used as an indication of the progress made by the
Mr L Greyling (ID) asked about the optimal role played by Parliament of the
Mr Gardiner explained that the United Kingdom Government had various Select Committees, all of which were responsible for oversight over the respective Departments to ensure that they delivered on their responsibilities. In addition, legislation required that an annual debate was held in response to the report submitted by Climate Change Committee. Mr Fankhauser could elaborate on this matter. The Climate Change Committee acted as the transparent conscience of Government. It was absolutely essential to the implementation of the Climate Change Act that there was transparency about the objectives, targets, budgets and scientific evidence on which all decisions were based. The information had to be made available to Parliament on at least an annual basis so that the Government of the
Mr Greyling referred to a recent statement by the Minister that the
Mr Kidney explained that, in the first instance, one had to adhere to active Parliamentary imperatives, which required the reduction of emissions. Secondly, the carbon budget indicated the practical reality. Thirdly, the Parliament of the
Ms Sonjica thanked Mr Kidney for his participation in the video conference. She said that
Mr Kidney said that he was thrilled to hear about the commitment of the South African Government to a deal in
Ms P Maduna (ANC) asked if the Government of the
Mr Fankhauser said that the Climate Change Committee’s mandate included awareness of the social impact of the recommendations on vulnerable groups. Social impact in the context of the
Ms M Shinn (DA) asked if provision was made for compensation and if developed countries were prepared to significantly increase financial contributions to scientific research into subjects such as CO2 emissions. She asked if other contributions, such as skills and human resources were considered. She wanted to know if partnerships could be developed between developed and developing nations rather than the situation where developed countries took the lead.
Mr Gardiner responded that scientific research was a critical area where as much co-operation as possible was needed across national boundaries. The private sector needed to be engaged to a greater extent to enable them to be part of the solution. It was not enough to put caps on industries to reduce emissions as was currently the case. The private sector needed to be engaged in the development of technologies that would be required to provide solutions and had to be part of the solution. Adaptation was the most important aspect for the poorest people in the world but technology and technological transfer played an important role in both mitigation and adaptation processes.
The meeting was adjourned.
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