Climate Change Green Paper 2010: Public hearings day 3

Water and Sanitation

07 March 2011
Chairperson: Mr J De Lange (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Committee continued the public hearings on the Climate Change Green Paper (the Green Paper).

The World Wildlife Forum (WWF) said that the Green Paper needed specific targets. There was a link between climate change and food security. Commercial agriculture needed to be transformed. The WWF endorsed conservation agriculture, and also urged that unused State-owned land should be released for farming. WWF submitted that food miles should be an issue nationally, and not only linked to competitiveness but to increase local food security. It called for a national adaptation fund and a register of nationally approved mitigation action. The concept of energy returned in relation to energy invested also needed to be introduced. Members asked how WWF saw the adaptation fund working, especially in relation to criteria and types of projects, how public buy-in could be achieved to acknowledge that everyone had a responsibility to try to stem climate change, and what were practical ways to deal with climate refugees.

The Southern African Faith Communities Environment Institute was of the view that the Green Paper did not pay adequate attention to the seriousness of a global rise in temperature, which was most likely to affect the poor and vulnerable. South Africa should be moving to ‘systems thinking’ and should change the current focus on data-gathering, monitoring and research to more action-driven initiatives. The entire economy should be underpinned and driven by the fact that climate change was happening. Government departments also needed to be more aligned in addressing these challenges. A member said that street committees needed to be revived so as to ensure that communities became involved at local level.

The Women’s Energy and Environment Change Forum submission claimed that many youth and women’s groups were excluded from the Green Paper process because English was the medium of communication.  The recycling of water at schools and offices also needed to be prioritised. A member asked whether representatives had attended the provincial hearings and the Department was asked to add the Forum’s details to its database to ensure greater communication.

The Youth in Climate Change Forum submission noted that in a certain area many children were born with deformities as a direct result of the environmental harm caused by mines in the area. It commented that the Green Paper was based on outdated data, asked that renewable energy be prioritised and urged the Department to place digesters into every household, promote organic agriculture and do more to publicise COP17. The Forum also called for greater consultation with the youth, civil society, and for the private sector to do more. The need to double the world’s food supply was a challenge, and large-scale wastage of food had to be curtailed and food production systems redesigned, with greater support of micro-farming, especially to the youth. It did not think that nuclear energy would be a sustainable solution. Members asked for more information on digesters, and questioned the link between deformities and mining activity. The Department was asked to investigate this and give a further report to the Committee.

The Earthlife Africa Jhb said that the Green Paper lacked a sense of urgency and was vague and lacking in specific targets, timelines and plans. It also highlighted that the statistics on which it was based were outdated. The baseline for the reduction of Greenhouse Gas emissions needed to be made explicit, and the temperature outlines of 2ºC did not accord with Africa’s stated position of 1.5ºC. Developmental trade-offs needed to occur in order to reduce emissions. There was too much focus on electricity and on nuclear energy. Members asked about the wisdom of setting targets, how best to ensure collation of a database of information, and called for comment on institutional arrangements. .

Meeting report

Climate Change Green Paper 2010 (Green Paper): Public hearings: continuation
World Wildlife Fund (WWF) submission
Ms L Naude, National Climate Change Officer, WWF, said that the Climate Change Green Paper needed specific targets. Climate change added significantly to food insecurity in that rainfall was especially important to Africa’s agricultural sector. Poor rainfall would lead to crop shortages and rising food prices. The poor and vulnerable would be hardest hit. Commercial agriculture needed to be transformed. The WWF endorsed conservation agriculture, including stewardship of natural resources. Access to land was also important, especially since there was plenty of State-owned land that was going unused. Food miles should be an issue nationally, and not only in terms of international competitiveness. The growing of food locally increased food security. The WWF called for a national adaptation fund. It also called for changes in the way that disaster management was handled and managed. There had to be a register of nationally approved mitigation action. This register should be one to which anyone could have access. The concept of energy returned in relation to energy invested also needed to be introduced.

Discussion
Mr G Morgan (DA) asked how it saw the adaptation fund working, especially in relation to criteria and types of projects.

Ms Naude answered that this should be seen as something for which any role player could put in a bid, particularly those who could show that this would increase their ability to respond to the impact of climate change.

Ms S Kalyan (DA) asked how public buy-in could be achieved to acknowledge that everyone had a responsibility to try to stem climate change. She also asked for an indication of the practical ways of dealing with the issue of climate refugees.

Ms Naude answered that, because everyone was part of the problem, new ways of living had to be sought and worked on. Civil society needed to help find solutions and get the correct message out. There were regional political forums, such as Southern African Development Community (SADC) which could be utilised to address this issue. The Conference of Parties (COP17) allowed an opportunity to initiate a regional conversation around the issues.

The Chairperson asked whether there any examples of best practices in relation to adaptation funds.
Ms Naude answered that this information could be forwarded to the Committee in writing.

The Chairperson said that it was important to draw criteria in relation to the adaptation fund.

Southern African Faith Communities Environment Institute (SAFCEI) submission
Ms L McDaid, Climate Change Officer, SAFCEI, said that the Climate Change Green Paper did not seem to pay adequate attention to the seriousness of a global rise in temperature. This would be most likely to affect the poor and vulnerable. She said that South Africa should be headed towards ‘Systems thinking’. More emphasis should be place on action-driven initiatives, rather than the current emphasis on data-gathering, monitoring and research. The entire economy should be underpinned and driven by the fact that climate change was happening. Government Departments also needed to be more aligned in addressing these challenges.

Discussion  
Ms D Tsotetsi (ANC) said that street committees needed to be revived in order to ensure that communities became involved in a localised way.

Ms McDaid responded that there were examples throughout Africa where local communities responded successfully to disasters through such committees.

Women’s Energy and Environment Change Forum (WEECF) submission
Ms L Ngobese, Educator, WEECF, said that all communication around the Green Paper on Climate Change was conducted in English. This needed to change, as there were many other language groupings in the country who could best express themselves in their own languages. The wording used in papers around this was also of such a nature that many could not understand it. As a result, many youth and women’s groups were excluded from the process. The recycling of water at schools and offices also needed to be prioritised.

Discussion
Ms Kalyan asked in which province the representatives were based, and whether they attended the provincial hearings which had been held there.

Ms Ngobese answered that she was based in Gauteng and that there was, in many areas, very little awareness of these provincial hearings.

The Chairperson said that the Committee would request the Department to add the WEECF’s details to its database to avoid this situation from recurring.

Ms H Ndude (COPE) said that there needed to be a greater effort to ensure that all eleven official languages were utilised when communicating around this issue. It should also be ensured that smaller groups such as these were represented at COP17.

Youth in Climate Change Forum (YCCF) Presentation
A representative of Youth in Climate Change Forum tabled a picture of her severely deformed baby nephew, noting that his condition resulted from the environmental impact of mining in the Thembisa area. 

Mr T Mondi, Representative, YCCF, said that the Climate Change Green Paper was based on outdated data. Renewable energy needed to be prioritised. Research into and development of renewable energy would go a long way towards reducing Greenhouse Gas emissions.

Mr K Radebe, Representative, YCCF, added that there needed to be greater consultation with the youth as well as with civil society, and urged the private sector to do more to assist in this regard. One of the challenges facing the next generation of farmers was the need to double the world’s food supply. Genetically modified foods had not added to the world food supply. The large-scale wastage of food needed to be curtailed and the food production system needed to be redesigned. There needed to be greater support of, in particular, youth-driven micro-farming. Nuclear energy was not a sustainable solution. He said that the Department of Environmental Affairs should place digesters into every household, promote organic agriculture and do more to advertise COP17.

Discussion
Mr Skosana asked how digesters aided in the saving of energy.

Ms N Tsotetsi, Representative, YCCF, said that digesters, particularly in areas where pit toilets were used, could be used to create gas. They were therefore a sustainable and profitable use of energy.

Ms Kalyan asked how certain the representatives were that the deformity shown was a direct result of mining activity in the area.

A representative said that there was high rate of such incidences in the area, and after this particular child was born an investigation was conducted which showed that the deformity was linked directly to the environmental conditions. The people affected by this should be compensated. Treatment for the medical conditions was very costly, and many people in the areas were unemployed.

The Chairperson asked the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) representatives who were in attendance to look into this matter, and to provide the Committee with a report on their findings.

Earthlife Africa Jhb submission
Ms F Adam, Researcher, Earthlife Africa Jhb, said that the Climate Change Green Paper lacked a sense of urgency and was vague and lacking in specific targets, timelines and plans. The statistics on which it was based were also outdated, as it was based on 2000 Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emission profiles. The baseline for the reduction of Greenhouse Gas emissions needed to be made explicit. The temperature outline of 2ºC was worrying as Africa’s stated position around this was 1.5ºC. Developmental trade-offs needed to occur in order to reduce emissions. There was also too much focus on electricity and on nuclear energy as a possible low-carbon solution. She added that the job-creation potential of the renewable energy sector was being harnessed.

Discussion
Ms Kalyan asked whether the setting up of specific targets could not be seen as setting South Africa up for failure.

Ms Adam answered that not setting specific targets would only result in a greater failure in the long-run.

The Chairperson asked how the collation of a database of information could be ensured. He also asked for the comment of Earthlife Africa on institutional arrangements.

Ms Adam answered that there were many non governmental organisations who had information but that a specific unit needed to be set up to collate this information. This was therefore not an impossible task. There needed to be a greater awareness of the fact that climate change affected the work of all departments, and all needed to work together.

The meeting was adjourned.   


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