National Climate Change Response Green Paper 2010: briefing by Department of Environmental Affairs

Water and Sanitation

23 February 2011
Chairperson: Mr J. De Lange (ANC)
Share this page:

Meeting Summary

The DEA continued their presentation on the Green Paper taking the discussion sector by sector, covering proposed mitigation and adaptation factors in the Health, Energy, Industry, Transport, Disaster Management, Natural Resources, Infrastructure and Waste sectors.

The Committee encouraged the Department to put more flesh to the Green Paper through featuring more innovative solutions and interventions, so that it did not appear as business as usual. Win-win situations and innovative solutions such as the treatment of gypsum, a biproduct of a new Eskom power plant being used as insulation for low cost housing needed to be multiplied. The capture of methane gas from the landfill in the eThekwini municipality in KZN and its usage for electricity generation needed to be expanded as a best practice and to be shared with other cities and entities that needed such solutions. Members also spoke of innovative products in the market that needed to be looked at such a South African business man who had invented a device that could be fitted into cars and cut emissions by thirty five percent. South Africa needed to look at its carbon footprint, measuring the carbon emission  consumption, as well as the  ecological footprint, measuring human demand on the ecosystems.

A Member urged for the reconsideration of criteria for a resource to be used other than exploiting it just because it was there. An example was the two hundred year coal reserve of South Africa that would be utilised. Members requested resources above ground to be considered equally to the ones underground, and to delineate usage of land for food production, flora and fauna reserve and other land usage.

The Committee requested the DEA to look at the job creation capacity and the human capacity required for interventions in the Green Paper in dealing with the consequences of climate change. Limitations of the current civil service structure were also discussed with the Committee saying that rigid structure and its implications on the Green Paper interventions needed to be reviewed.

Stakeholder say in the Green Paper was also debated - with the Department being asked to increase the gender component, reconsider the Long Term Mitigation Strategy (LTMS) in light of the new information, and to integrate the environment into the Industry Plan of Action. The role of traditional healers was also interrogated with the Department saying they were being trained and educated through a SANBI programme about conservation for sustainability of the plant species they use.

Government was also urged to be an example as a consumer, through using its procurement processes and buying power to move toward water and energy efficient means of operations and to be an example in the implementation of the Green Paper. The Government was considering including electric cars in its fleet as a means of saving energy.

Meeting report

National Climate Change Response Green Paper: Department of Environmental Affairs briefing  
Mr Peter Lukey, Acting Deputy Director General (DDG) of the DEA continued the presentation on the Green Paper from the previous day, focussing on various sectors:

Health Sector
A lot of work needed to be done. The mitigation and reducing of fossil fuel combustion would improve air quality. National policies in building up resilience of the nation might include improving nutrition and better water supply. The development of a data capturing system would improve malaria and cholera control.  The use of alternatives to persistent organic pollutants would improve the biosafety of the malaria campaign.

Mr L Greyling (ID) asked if there were other malaria control means that were not harmful.

Mr Lukey replied that because malaria mosquitoes had been building up resistance, there were really no alternatives to DDT at the moment.

Ms H Ndude (COPE) asked if the Green Paper had a regional focus where malaria and cholera were concerned as they were endemic to certain regions only.

The Chairperson remarked that after listening to the two scientists the previous day, he realized that the Health Sector needed capacity in government across department lines. Interventions to fill capacity needed to be put in place before major disasters occurred.

Ms Ndude added that recruitment and mobilization of human resources to ensure the right people were placed in the right positions in government needed to happen. Government was committed to delivery but it stagnated due to lack of expertise and lack of skills and understanding of personnel, some of which were just occupying vacant positions. This was a debate perhaps for another time but the Committee needed to talk to the Minister about their observations.

The Chairperson replied that the issue needed a deeper analysis as the problem was the way the civil service employment system was structured. There was a finite ladder and employees could only go so far then they reached a ceiling. A lot of problems in the system were due to people trying to get better salaries but the system was not very flexible and people had to go through a huge process to get ahead. There was a need to look at the civil service structure.

The Chairperson expressed dissatisfaction with the information presented saying that he felt that it was really just business as usual with a bit of creativity. There needed to be a bit more innovation in the different sectors.

Mr Lukey continued that climate change indicators were needed for tracking purposes. It was important to look at rainfall patterns for example.

The Chairperson interrupted, saying that if there were no indicators, then it would not be possible to go beyond not allocating events to climate change. Indicators would allow the occurrences to be linked to climate change.

Energy sector
Mr Lukey said that in the Energy sector, 78% of emissions were from energy. Energy planning would include the peak, plateau and decline trajectory. The carbon tax was in discussion with the Treasury and had increased by 0,5% as mentioned in the Finance Minister’s Budget speech the day before. Sixty years ago, SA was a world leader in solar water heater production, due to the need to have them installed in areas not serviced by electricity. The industry had since collapsed due to advent of electrical geysers but there was a need to revive it. Research and development around renewable energy were filling the gaps in the Green Paper. The level of innovation however was diabolical. Energy research was almost nonexistent as there had not been a driver for it. There was also the need to get over the financial institutional barriers in terms of energy. There was a need, for example, to scale up targets for renewable energy as only 2% had been achieved. There was a need to meet the target and then scale it up.

The Chairperson asked who the champion was in renewable energy.

Mr Lukey replied that it was the Department of Energy and that on the demand side management, it was Eskom.

The Chairperson indicated that specific programmes needed to be put in place from the Government’s side on the demand side especially for Eskom and SASOL  to drive and create efficiency. Government should have the interest and not the institutions linked to Government as it was like making the wolf the shepherd of the sheep.

Mr Lukey said that the Renewable Energy policy was under review and there had been a dramatic shift in the work on Renewable Energy. The sustainable financial mechanism was  the South African Renewable Initiative (SARI). Normally people who were poor used far more electricity as their appliances were energy inefficient. An energy audit conducted revealed that energy use after hours even when there were no people in the buildings, was much higher than during the day. It was found that it was due to air conditioning units which were cooling the buildings and then switching to heat mode in order to heat them up.

The baseline for mitigation was the Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Inventory. Mitigation also required the development of
an initiative to roll-out an Energy Management training and awareness programme to be implemented within the industry and mining sectors. During the energy crisis, people started to talk about energy more than ever before. Dining room table conversations shifted towards talking about saving electricity, something that the campaign needed to capitalize on and encourage the saving electricity behaviour. The legislative framework for carbon capture and storage was another area that had real potential.

Mr Greyling said that the DEA could not be taken to task for the Department of Energy’s responsibility, but the Renewable Energy Paper review was completed in September the year before as a precondition for the World Bank Loan, but it had not been released, and therefore did not speak to the Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) being drafted. He asked if it was possible to see what was in the review document. Even SARI had a very ambitious target. From the energy efficiency side, SA was not planning for major energy efficiency. The IRP only modeled way below what Eskom estimated.

Mr Greyling further urged the Department that SA needed to get serious as there were only two people  running the Energy Efficiency unit. The Department of Energy needed to be told to get serious. The Voluntary Accord signed between departments had not met its targets. It was time to legislate energy efficiency as it would be the cheapest and quickest route to meeting the targets.

Mr Morgan said he had read the Green Paper twice and thought that Green Paper needed to include under Energy Efficiency what needed to be easily achieved. The Government was the biggest procurer of goods in the SA economy and could use its buying power to influence the market. It would also be great potential for Government to institute regulations for stand-by time for all appliances it bought so that every TV set, refrigerator, DVD player and so forth could only use so much power when on stand-by. Other countries through its procurement  system had implemented such a system to say that “such an amount of time” was the absolute maximum time one could have an appliance on stand-by, in order to save electricity. The Long Term Mitigation Scenario’s business as usual graph had a deviation. He asked if there was another process as he thought that the graph based on indicators factored in higher economic growth flowing out of business as usual graph readjusted. He asked why should the graph give way to deviations in 2025, a time when the Government planned to have a nuclear fleet in operation.

Mr Morgan added that the Long Term Mitigation Scenario (LTMS) needed to be reviewed as it was done in 2007 and the IRP2 came later. Was it still relevant, and were the targets ambitious enough? He urged the DEA to look at it, as it was doing communications to the UN based on such information. Furthermore, it was easy to create a massive business as usual scenario but the argument was, could SA be more aggressive in the peak plateau, decline scenario as it was current doing? Also, the renewable energy targets were not ambitious enough. If they were, then SA could put forth more reduction decline. There was a need for discussion on LTMS  when dealing with mitigation.

Mr Lukey said many of the questions had already been raised in the provincial workshops. For SARI to achieve a 50% renewable target by 2020, reaching 15% would require about fifty billion rand, and would translate to a three percent increase to the current electricity tariff. There was a need to find international funding to meet the target. The Energy Efficient Accord had been reviewed by the National Business Alliance and it was a struggle to measure as it all came down to the LTMS and the baseline was not defined.

In looking at projection to 2020, though there was movement away from business as usual, it was still above the current development path. The LTMS for water was very accurate as it was based on the 1994 GHG inventory. It was important to be ambitious but also one had to be pragmatic. IRP2 was making commitment levels that were dramatic and never seen in the country.

The Government continued to miss opportunities in using its consumer power. Looking at the paper used by Government would change the face of paper in the country. The only place Government had looked at was in its vehicle fleet that had aimed for a certain percentage to be electrical at a certain time. One of the biggest problems of renewable energy was storage but Government was looking at initiatives in this area. Carbon foot printing, measuring carbon usage was another area to look at. The Department had done an exercise in the block and it was a typical SA office block with a central switch system that lit up the entire floor even when only one person was in the building. The Department was also looking at teleconferencing as one of the biggest footprints of Government was travel  The Government needed to be a consumer setting an example. 

An exercise had been conducted with LTMS to see whether it was far-off - as people said it was out of date but excellent. There was huge buy in, but when shown with update of GHG inventory it was accurate. The LTMS did not predict the time of economic slowdown and the electricity crisis.

Mr Morgan wanted to know why the emissions were so high.

Mr Lukey said it was from Eskom and the increase in emissions came from an increase in supply. The LTMS only predicted from 2003 and left out a period where a whole lot of cars were placed on the road.  In terms of the model, the downward trend had begun. 

Mr Morgan told the Members that one of the submissions would be presenting a device that was successful in cutting emissions by 35% and was going very successfully as it had secured orders from China. He also advised Government to look further at other options as well as there were a whole lot of new generation cars such as a new one recently released in China.

Dr Huang added that the name of the company producing the new electric cars, was BYD.

Mr Greyling said that in addition to the carbon footprint, it also needed to consider the ecological footprint measuring human demand on the ecosystem and that the country needed to push for an ecological footprint before COP17. He related an example in Japan where there was a law against wearing jackets to work in summer in order to save on energy in the usage of air conditioners.

Mr Lukey continued his presentation on the Industry sector - commerce & manufacturing which looked at the Air Quality Act to consider the need to declare GHG as priority pollutants and oblige users to report on their usage. He said that the sector was concerned about their competitiveness being undermined by the negotiations.

Dr Huang asked about the need to involve municipalities and why the Department was not involved in the Industrial Policy Action Plan.

Mr Lukey replied that the new Industrial Policy Action Plan had included the environment only eight months before.

Mining and Mineral Sector
Mr Lukey said the actions were: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely (SMART).

The Chairperson said, that some of the innovative actions in the Green Paper such as the capture of methane gas in the Durban landfills to generate electricity needed to be integrated and run across all towns and municipalities and big metropolitan areas instead of compartmentalising them. For example an action such as the capturing of methane for electricity should not be only for the mining sector or for the waste sector, but that it should be applied everywhere where applicable.

Mr Morgan said that the mining sector had done a lot of work on mining and climate change and that there must be substantial knowledge on the subject.

Dr Huang referred to the mention of a refund from the Department of Mining in the Finance Minister’s Budget Speech and asked the Department how they would deal with such issues

The Chairperson asked if the Green Paper indicated mining practice that degraded the environment.

Mr Lukey replied that the discussion had been on open cast mining as it destroyed carbon sinks and released massive amounts of carbon.

Mr Morgan referred to Mr Lukey’s earlier comment that SA had 200 years worth of coal left, and that it was going to mine it. He felt that just because SA had it, it did not mean that it should mine it. Bearing in mind, the argument on who was responsible for carbon footprint, was Government interested in looking against the LTMS, to see how much of certain minerals should be allowed to be exploited.

The Chairperson said that at the end of the day, the country was going the developmental way and needed to create jobs. This was one of the reasons why concerns raised about renewable energy not happening fast enough, were not answered. There was a source readily available for coal. Whether it would be pumped into the air by SA or whether other countries did, everyone would still suffer from it. He thought this was a highly unlikely debate.

Mr Morgan argued that at some point SA should not be mining as his argument focussed on the area and not what was underground. He took the Chairperson’s point about being pragmatic.  What he meant was certain areas needed to be delineated as areas for food production or to preserve water. 

The Chairperson said that when the public hearings were completed, there would be a need to debate over the practices that exacerbate climate change such as open mining.

Mr Greyling said there was a need to look at externalities for mining as it will give a quantifiable way to make a decision. He asked whose responsibility it was to do the study.

Mr Lukey replied that in relation to the 200 years’ worth of coal, this issue would be related to the international agreement and unless that worked, then there would be no Green Paper. He acknowledged that one of the things coming through was how different sectors were affected from a jobs perspective.  He indicated that the externalities study had been done by the DEA but he was not sure if it was an external document.

Tourism Sector
Mr Lukey said that SA needed to build up resilience and consider areas such as Ecotourism to cater for those who came to see the biodiversity of the country. One of the biggest effects would be the travel miles and this area had huge potential. 

Ms Tsotetsi asked what role the DEA played in protecting the environment.

Mr Lukey replied that environmental protection was the Department’s core function and that it mostly did it through Environmental Impact Assessments.

The Chairperson added that the problem was in compliance and that the Committee needed to have compliance as a focus area for environment and water and to give it teeth.

Ms Tsotetsi asked how traditional healers were considered in the process. 

Mr Lukey replied that there was a big focus by the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI) in educating and training traditional healers in conservation of the plants and trees they use to ensure sustainability and to prevent species from going extinct.

Transport Sector
Mr Lukey said there would be a need for shifts in policies in passenger transport to move people from private cars to using mass transport. Integration of land use in transportation planning also needed attention in looking at where people were in relation to transport. For example, poor people who needed transport the most were usually the furthest away.

The Chairperson said that this was a legacy of apartheid and still continued.

Mr Lukey said that there was a chance in climate change policy to do some good stuff.  Major investment in the vehicle and manufacturing sector provided lots of jobs. But there was also a need to look at the fact that lots of cars were produced and not bicycles, and SA did not have a culture of cycling. There was criticism about the rail freight situation. One needed to improve efficiency of the vehicle fleet and look at cleaner technologies.

Dr Huang asked for the DEA to look at tourism sector and production of CO2 and also asked if they were attending the public hearings in the coming week. He asked if the Government would be likely to subsidise the electric vehicle. He also asked how much public hearings would help the Green Paper.

Mr Lukey was unsure if the Department could make it to the Public Hearings as they were severely understaffed and had to organize the COP17.

The Chairperson insisted that the Department needed to be present at the public hearings in order for them to utilise the discussions and the feedback from the process for the improvement of the Green Paper. The Chairperson urged the Department that they needed to take the process seriously and their attendance was not negotiable.

Disaster Management Sector
There was a need for improved early warning systems. There were good warning systems in place, but there was still a massive need to get clearer warnings onto the ground. The SA Vulnerability Atlas would be maintained and updated to reflect areas such as those affected by malaria and certain diseases. Research and Development, the Department was using existing organizations to keep people informed of potential risks and disasters. There was also a need for formal and informal education to prevent situations such as people who were unaware of the higher likelihood of being struck by lightning in certain areas. It needed to be a requirement  in education to know how to deal with extreme events. Formal and informal education on building up resilience in dealing with extreme weather events would be needed.

Dr Huang asked what a good warning system was from the Department’s point of view.

The Chairperson said it had to be the most efficient means of communication.

Mr Lukey explained that the National Disaster Management Act of 2003 established Disaster Management in all the cities. The National Disaster Management Centre was one of the most high tech in the world and could warn of floods and fires. It had direct links to the ground and had a highly effective response that allowed emergency services to help other countries.

Terrestrial Biodiversity was a difficult area due to natural movement. There were natural barriers such as mountains that stop migration. There was a huge debate on what should be done if there was a need for gene banks. How should nature be managed? Monitoring efforts, experimental studies and building partnerships and formal protection were some of the ways to deal with it. In dealing with alien species, this was a hard task as the weather system changed and made it viable for exotic plants. There was also a need to restore natural systems. The destruction of mangrove and wetland systems had opened up land to some of the most dramatic consequences of storm surges. Such systems were nature’s natural way of reducing the impact of flood damage. They would need to be restored and rehabilitated.

There was not much known in the area of marine biodiversity and more research needed to be done. The warming of the oceans increased acidity and this was the worry in marine biodiversity.

Commercial forestry could be affected as forestry areas could move away from sawmills.  Forests were good carbon sinks hence there was a movement to encourage agro-forestry and indigenous forestry. Re-afforestation was looking at putting trees back to where they had been in the first place. For example, putting Cedars back into the Cederberg which did not have a single cedar tree anymore. Such initiatives would create jobs and would need to be government supported.

The Chairperson remarked that such a project was a good public works initiative.

The stress on the Fisheries Resource was tremendous. Monitoring poaching and illegal fishing would help the resource to recover. Sea level rise may affect fish hatcheries which would be inundated and destroyed. Building up fish farming to increase resilience was being looked at. 

In the area of Infrastructure in the built environment, town planning would have to change. There would be a need to retrain town planners. Keeping people’s homes away from the areas where they work would become an old fashioned idea. The Chairperson said that a City like Paris allowed people to live and work in the same location. In terms of energy efficiency, the City of Cape Town and the City of eThekwini in KZN had done good work. Aspects of green building needed to be reviewed and there was a process reviewing Commercial Building standards. The rural areas were the least resilient to climate change as they did not have the infrastructure. They would need to be self sufficient.

The Coastal Areas had started to plan around sea level rise.

Mr Greyling asked about retrofitting of old buildings and the problems in payment for such a change. It was in the interest of the tenants who did not want to pay as property did not belong to them and landlords not wanting to pay as they did not benefit from it. This was affecting energy efficiency.

The Chairperson asked if there were strong lines of responsibilities built into the municipalities to ensure compliance as they needed to get tough on those who were living below the flood lines.

Ms Bhengu asked whether the white paper integrated gender issues.

Mr Lukey admitted that there was also a comment from the provincial workshop asking for more work on gender impact. The Commission on Gender Equality was asked to deliver a more tangible input.

Waste Sector
This fell under the jurisdiction of the DEA. There was a need to find innovative solutions for some of the wastes generated such as the gypsum produced from Eskom’s new power station. A new market was found for it in low cost housing insulation. This was seen as a win-win situation.

The Chairperson was impressed by such a process and remarked this was the type of innovation that was needed in the Green Paper process. Government in its procurement of housing needed to use gypsum. In terms of landfill cover, there were intentions to put a biocover on top but the gas was going to waste and should be used for electricity. The National Composting strategy was in line with the Waste Incineration Policy which the anti-incineration lobby was not happy about.

The expected areas of debate for the Green Paper would be:
The energy planning process; The energy mix; Pricing of carbon; Sector targets; Intervention resourcing; Intervention prioritisation.

Mr Greyling asked if the Department had looked at incineration systems used in Barcelona and in Canada which were a win-win situation. 

The Chairperson asked why the anti-incineration lobby was so strong.

Mr Lukey replied that they had been unregulated and things had improved about 10 years ago. The Thermal Policy had changed things. Not enough research had been done but one needed to look at extracting substances from tyres for example instead of burning them.

The Chairperson thank Mr Lukey for his good grasp of the topics and said SA was lucky to have civil servants like himself.

The Chairperson noted that Chapters 6, 7 and 8 were not in the document. The Committee requested the Department to insert a separate chapter on information, database and systems and institutional mechanisms to monitor and drive the processes which must also include indicators.

The Chairperson thanked the Members and announced that the Public Hearings would begin on Thursday the coming week at 14.00pm and Friday 8.30am.

The Meeting was adjourned.


No related documents


  • We don't have attendance info for this committee meeting

Download as PDF

You can download this page as a PDF using your browser's print functionality. Click on the "Print" button below and select the "PDF" option under destinations/printers.

See detailed instructions for your browser here.

Share this page: