National Climate Change Response Policy Green Paper 2010: Public Hearings Day 4

Water and Sanitation

14 March 2011
Chairperson: Mr JDe Lange(ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Committee continued the public hearings on the National Climate Change Response Policy Green Paper 2010 (the Green Paper).

Sustainable Energy Africa submitted that the Green Paper should have made mention of energy poverty. Programmes such the national electrification programme needed to be re-invigorated. Renewable energy, when used in conjunction with energy efficiency, was cheaper than generating energy through conventional methods. Actual targets needed to be set for carbon constraints. The reference to the feed-in tariff to promote renewable energy-generation should include micro-renewable energy-generation. Having pointed out the cost and safety concerns around nuclear energy, the institution said that if nuclear energy was being considered as an option, South African citizens had to be consulted. The funding models of local government should be reviewed to try to enhance efficiency. The capacity of departments to implement the Working for Energy programme would need to be assessed, and there was a need to align policies, but this would be difficult. Members asked under which Ministry the Working for Energy programme should fall, whether local government should play a role in coordination, where the budget should be found, and whether other countries had national databases of relevant information.

Mama Earth Foundation representative said that the main problem with the Renewable Energy Feed-In Tariff (REFIT) was that South Africa’s REFIT costs were currently too high compared with conventional electricity. This Foundation also felt that nuclear energy was not a suitable option, given the rising costs, and that an integrated system, utilising different renewable energy sources, would provide South Africa with double the amount of energy of a new coal power station, and would also ensure that waste was better utilised. There needed to be an alignment of government departments.
Members asked where the Foundation thought that funding could be sourced, whether current REFIT prices should be renewed, and what resources should be dedicated to it. They also enquired whether the REFIT should be expanded to include smaller technologies that generated less electricity, and to what extent industry was willing to take up these opportunities.
 
The African Centre for Bio-Safety felt that there needed to be a major shift away from industrial agricultural practices to more localised agro-ecology systems. It expressed concerns that genetically-modified organisms had not been proven to assist in ensuring food security. The production of agro-fuels was an inefficient method of producing fuel, and the emphasis should instead be on transforming the transport sector. Members asked for more clarity on what problems the Centre foresaw with bio-technology in agriculture, to what extent organic agriculture would assist in alleviating food shortages, and what practical solutions it could offer.

Institute for Democracy in South Africa (IDASA) criticised the Green Paper for lack of clear timelines, mitigation targets and obligations, and said that these should be spelled out in the White Paper, which needed to contain clearer guidance and direction around targets, performance and monitoring. IDAS suggested that it could be useful for the National Committee on Climate Change (NCCC) to become a statutory body, as it could take over the task of the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Climate Change in overseeing the implementation by the Presidency. A Member asked whether the Inter-Ministerial Committee compensated for lack of capacity and transparency in Nedlac.

The Climate Justice Now representative said that education was an important issue and more clarity was needed around how this would be achieved in all sectors of society. It was disappointed that this would not be done before the Conference of Parties. It noted that some information in the Green Paper was outdated and therefore of little relevance. It submitted that Government needed to do more to reduce carbon emissions. It felt that nuclear energy was unsafe and costly and was therefore not a viable or sustainable option. The organisation was also critical of the distribution of information about the public hearings in English only, and by electronic means, and inaccessible venues for the provincial public hearings. It suggested that government, instead of burdening citizens with the high costs of water, should penalise the companies polluting the water supply. Members noted that the concerns would be included in the Committee Report.


Meeting report

National Climate Change Response Policy Green Paper 2010: Public Hearings continued Sustainable Energy Africa submission
Ms Megan Euston-Brown, Project Manager, Sustainable Energy Africa, said that although the National Climate Change Response Policy Green Paper (the Green Paper) made mention of the fact that the negative effects of climate change were compounded by poor living conditions, no mention was made of energy poverty. To redress this, the Green Paper needed to speak to the re-invigoration of the national electrification programme. All low-income housing also needed to be made climate-proof.

Energy efficiency was the cheapest option to meet demand and a combination of renewable energy and energy efficiency was cheaper than generating energy with conventional sources. There should be an actual target set in relation to carbon constraint. The reference to market-based policy measures, which spoke of a carbon tax, should also include market distortions. All new State investments should also be scrutinised to ensure that they fell in line with this policy. The reference to the feed-in tariff to promote renewable energy-generation should include micro-renewable energy-generation. As there were concerns around the safety of nuclear energy, this was not considered to be a sustainable option and if indeed there was an intention to explore this further, then South African citizens should be consulted. The Green Paper should bring in a specific target around efficiency. The funding models of local governments needed to be reviewed in an effort to enhance efficiency. All public procurement should also be regulated to achieve efficiency. Although the Working for Energy was an important programme, Departments should be assessed, seeing that no project here had yet been approved, in order to ascertain whether they had sufficient capacity to implement this programme. Resource-efficient urban design also needed to be explored. Although the Green Paper spoke to the alignment of policies, the practical side of this would be harder to execute.

Discussion
Dr S Kalyan (DA) asked which Ministry should conduct the suggested analysis into the Working for Energy Programme. She enquired if Sustainable Energy Africa thought that local government should play a role in coordination, and where the budget would be based in order address the issues raised.

Ms Euston-Brown answered that at local government level it was often not policy that brought about change but how these issues were dealt with on the ground. Since Sustainable Energy Africa had formerly been under a misapprehension about the mandate of the National Planning Commission (NPC), and therefore wanted to withdraw some recommendations. However, it wished to emphasise the need for strong leadership, as responding to climate change required significant economic transformation. There needed to be a review of how budgets were handled. Development should be done in a more sustainable way, and should not necessarily require additional budget.

The Chairperson said that a possible solution to institutional arrangements could be the establishment of a committee, made up of Directors-General of all provinces and the relevant Departments.

The Chairperson asked whether there were any examples of countries that had national databases of relevant information.

Ms Euston-Brown answered that this did need to receive attention, as collecting information for databases had proven to be more difficult over the last five years.

Mama Earth Foundation submission
Mr K Foster, Student Affiliate, Mama Earth Foundation, said that although the Renewable Energy Feed-In Tariff (REFIT) was an excellent avenue for sourcing and securing funding from international sources, and had proven beneficial in those countries that had adopted it, the main problem lay in the difference between the cost of conventional electricity and the cost of the REFIT. The cost of South Africa’s REFIT was too high. Nuclear energy was not a suitable option, as its costs were continually rising. An integrated system, utilising different renewable energy sources, would provide South Africa with double the amount of energy that a new coal power station could provide, even without the Smart Grid. An integrated system would also ensure that waste was better utilised. There needed to be an alignment of government departments in order to ensure the proper implementation of policies. There was strong need for equipment energy star ratings, mandatory audits and mandatory energy inventories.

Discussion
Mr G Morgan (DA) asked where Mama Earth Foundation (the Foundation) thought that funding for the REFIT could be sourced. He also asked to what extent the REFIT should be expanded to include smaller technologies that generated less electricity, and to what extent industry players were willing to take up these opportunities.

Mr Foster answered that, though the Foundation was not sure where immediate funding could be found, South Africa was most likely to be able to secure long-term funding from international sources once the country showed a genuine commitment to the REFIT and the adoption of renewable energy. There was technology that would allow smaller operators to return input into the grid, so there should not be any obstacle to this. He suggested that he could provide further comment in writing.

Mr L Greyling (ID) asked whether the Foundation felt that the current REFIT prices should be reviewed, and what resources should be dedicated to the REFIT.  

Mr Foster answered that these tariffs should be evaluated annually and should differentiate between different sources of energy. However, it would be necessary to create capacity to execute this.

Ms Kalyan asked where the Foundation received its funding.

Mr Foster answered that his answer would be provided to the Committee in writing.

African Centre for Bio-Safety submission
Ms Haydee Swanby, Researcher and Outreach Officer, African Centre for Bio-Safety, said that there needed to be a major shift from industrial agricultural practices to more localised agro-ecology systems. The Green Paper acknowledged that industrial agriculture was responsible for high emissions, was heavily dependent on oil and used up 50% of South Africa’s water supply. However, the Green Paper did not sufficiently address the need for a shift towards agro-ecological systems. There were also concerns around genetically-modified organisms, especially as South Africa was the only country in the world that genetically modified its staple food. Genetically-modified food had not been proven to assist in food security. It had also been found that increased insect resistance to genetically-modified crops necessitated more use of pesticides. The fact that food resources were increasingly being held in the hands of a few giant corporations was adding to the creation of a very fragile food system which would, in the long run, prove unsustainable. The production of agro-fuels was a highly inefficient means of producing fuel, as the emphasis should instead be on transforming the transport sector.

Discussion
Mr Morgan asked what the Centre felt were the specific problems in relation to the bio-technology side of agriculture. He also asked how and to what extent organic agriculture would assist in alleviating food shortages.
 
Ms Swanby answered that bio-technology was inappropriate for small-scale African farmers, as it was relied too much on capital-intensive methods and high technology. It was therefore not the best way to progress food security. The biggest concern was corporate concentration and ownership. There was a growing body of data that supported the benefits of organic agriculture.

Dr Kalyan asked what practical solutions the Centre could offer to address the issues raised.

Ms Swanby answered that the Centre was not advocating that exports be stopped, but instead was calling for greater support for the growth of agro-ecological systems.

Institute for Democracy in South Africa (IDASA) submission
Mr Gary Pienaar, Senior Researcher: Governance and Ethics, IDASA, said that the Green Paper should have included clear timelines, targets and obligations around reporting on mitigation actions. As South Africa was currently ahead of projected emission levels, there was an urgent need for clearer guidance and direction in the forthcoming White Paper around targets, performance and monitoring. In regard to access to information, an important tool could be the website established by the Department of Environmental Affairs (the Department), although this would need to be expanded to serve as an information portal for both the general public and relevant institutions. The Department’s public hearings would play an important role in sharing information, and in instilling a sense of responsibility in the general public. The National Committee on Climate Change (NCCC) could possibly be reconstituted as a statutory body. It also needed to facilitate better monitoring and evaluation of how climate change mitigation initiatives were being implemented. As the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Climate Change (IMC) could find it difficult to oversee the work of the Presidency in relation to climate change (as was noted in point 10 of its Performance Outcomes) the Committee could monitor the implementation by both the IMC and the Presidency.  

Discussion
Dr Kalyan asked whether the Inter-Ministerial Committee adequately compensated for the lack of capacity and transparency in the New Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac).

Mr Pienaar answered that Nedlac had inherent constraints in its mandate, which meant that many of the institutions that had played important advisory roles to various departments were not heard in that forum. There was a need for a broadly representative forum where all relevant information was gathered.

Climate Justice Now submission
Mr Meshack Mbangula, Organiser, Climate Justice Now, said that renewable energy was the only viable option for the future. More resources should be put into negating climate change. Education on climate change was important and more clarity was needed on how it could reach all sectors of society. Climate Justice Now found it disappointing that the proposed education drive would only take place after the Conference of Parties (COP17), which meant that many people would therefore not be suitably informed on, or able to participate in discussions before then. Some of the information in the Green Paper was also outdated and therefore was of little relevance. It seemed that very little was done by Government to reduce carbon emissions. Nuclear energy was unsafe and costly, and therefore was not considered to be a viable or sustainable option. Renewable energy was not being given the same attention. With sufficient political will, South Africa could become the leader of the renewable energy movement in Africa. However, information on the public hearings was only distributed in English.

Climate Justice Now criticised the high cost of water, which particularly affected the poor and suggested that instead of these costs being claimed from the citizens, companies who polluted water supply should be penalised.

Discussion
Dr Kalyan asked whether the representatives had attended the provincial public hearings held in Gauteng and, if so, whether the concerns were raised there.

Mr Mbangula answered that Climate Justice Now had attended these hearings and had raised not only the concern around language but also its concerns that the venues were largely inaccessible, and the fact that much of the information on the public hearings was only made available online.

The Chairperson said that the Committee had planned to hold hearings around the issue of acid mine drainage. The language concerns and water issues would also be mentioned in the Committee’s Report on these hearings.

The meeting was adjourned.




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