The Committee continued the public hearings on the National Climate Change Response Policy Green Paper 2010 (the Green Paper).
The Wildlife and Environmental Society of South Africa (Wessa) supported the Paper’s salutary analysis of the water situation, introduction of alternative measures to assure the right to basic water, the approach to monitoring, verifying and mitigation and promotion of rainwater harvesting. It was, however, concerned with the need for clarity around the links between the different sectors, expressed caution on the stimulation of new industries, said that the low carbon trajectory needed to be spelt out, and that government needed to direct, support and facilitiation mitigation plans. There was not much time to do so. It also urged that estuary integrity must be maintained for desalination. Members asked about the possible effects of desalinisation plants on the coastal environment, how the protection of bio-diversity could be enhanced through the Green Paper, whether there was any concrete evidence to support the introduction of a carbon tax and how direct citizen participation could be secured.
Off the Ground said that there needed to be clarity around polluter institutions. Similar to other presenters, it commented that too much of the communication around climate change was in English, and venues for provincial public hearings were inaccessible. It felt that energy recovery from waste could be sufficient to negate a need for nuclear and/or coal energy. It noted that carbon capture and storage technology had not been proven effective. Members asked what this association did to assist in public awareness.
The Association of Cementitious Material Producers suggested that the Paper needed to adopt a more sectoral approach, and that recognition should have been given to the work that this sector had already done in cutting emissions. It was the need for support from rail, energy-efficient technology, cautioned that the current definition of waste could have unintended consequences and the need to set targets and benchmarks. It recommended support from the rail network, economic instruments for low-carbon policy, recognition of prior work in reducing emissions and greater clarity around the different role-players in Government. A member asked for more detail around the proposed sectoral approach, especially the difference between domestic and transnational sectoral policies.
The South Durban Community Environment Alignmentalso commented on inaccessibility of the public hearing venues, and use of technical vocabulary, in English only, that excluded many from the public hearings. The Green Paper had made no mention of South Africa’s approach to the international negotiations, and the set targets were unlikely to be met. Members asked whether this body could provide input that would be useful for the Conference of Parties (COP17) and its suggestions for how to proceed, especially given the withdrawal of powers from the Kyoto Protocol.
The Timberwatch Coalitionrepresentative said that the Green Paper lacked a meaningful action plan and drew too heavily on unproven solutions. Carbon capture and storage had not reduced emissions. Nuclear energy was an unsafe and unsustainable option. There needed to be a move towards organic agriculture, improved public transport, better town planning, a reduction in over-consumption, targeted energy and carbon taxes, renewable solar energy, and a decentralised energy grid. South Africa needed to focus on creating a green economy and also needed to provide more support to community-based restoration and ecological agriculture. Members asked what it was doing towards raising awareness in different communities, and whether any nuclear plant in South Africa was considered particularly unsafe.
Mr Terry Bengis said that the Paper did not tackle the relevant issues head-on and disguised many of the issues. He recommended that South Africa should create standards around pollution, require identified polluters to reduce emissions, and sanction them if they failed to do so. He believed that carbon trading offered an opportunity for foreign direct investment and job-creation. He recommended that the upgrade of South Africa’s refineries should be funded through carbon credits, fuel company resources and a fuel tax. The Chairperson asked whether there were other issues that he felt were disguised.
The Dagga Party representative recommended that policy requirements should address limitation of population growth through limiting the number of children in a family, protection of agricultural land, moderate industrial consumption, conservation of resources, stopping of pollution, restoration of ecosystems and biodiversity. It recommended a five-year investment towards transformation and a move towards permaculture. It said that dagga was the ideal resource, being a carbon-neutral fuel, having low-input agricultural requirements, medicinal and tourism value, and hemp had various uses. A Member asked how it could be “the ideal resource” and the Party said it wished to change perceptions.
The Nelson Mandela Bay Transition Network recommended tighter controls around water pollution, and more attention to permaculture and conservation agriculture. It did not see nuclear energy as a viable option. It recommended improved curriculum requirements for agricultural studies, and expressed concern as to who should be responsible for implementing policy. Members asked for written suggestions on curriculum changes.
The National Union of Mineworkers said that a firmer stance should be taken against companies that contribute significantly to pollution levels, and carbon tax money should go towards reducing further emissions and funding research. It criticised the targets as too high and inappropriate. It recommended that the Chamber of Mines should be held responsible for funding rehabilitation projects. Nuclear energy was not a safe option. Members asked what the Union was doing to reduce emissions, and whether the impact of transition away from coal energy, and possible job losses, had been considered.
National Climate Change Response Policy Green Paper 2010: Public Hearings continued
Wildlife and Environmental Society of South Africa (Wessa) submission
Mr P Dowling, Director, Wildlife and Environmental Society of South Africa, said that the National Climate Change Response Policy Green Paper (the Green Paper) was well-reasoned in that it acknowledged that climate change was everyone’s responsibility. The Green Paper also sought to involve all spheres of government at a high level. Wessa supported the Paper’s salutary analysis of the water situation, introduction of alternative measures to assure the right to basic water, the approach to monitoring, verifying and mitigation and promotion of rainwater harvesting. It was, however, concerned with the need for clarity around the links between the different sectors, expressed some caution regarding the stimulation of new industries, and said that the low carbon trajectory needed to be spelt out, Government needed to direct, as well as support and facilitate, mitigation plans for energy and transport, and Wessa pointed out that there was not much time for transition, It also pointed out that estuary integrity needed to be maintained in relation to desalination. It commented on the use of coal as the primary fuel and the pursuit of nuclear energy.
Wessa further noted that it was important to recognise South Africa’s strategic role on both the continent and in the world. It urged for the prioritisation and implementation of marine protected areas (MPAs), an emphasis on local food security, a clearer link between water and agricultural sectors, explicit links between human and ecosystem health and a response strategy to regional migration.
Mr G Morgan (DA) asked about the possible effects of desalinisation plants on South Africa’s coastal environment. He also asked what role MPAs could play in the conservation of marine-protected areas and whether they were considered effective. He further asked how the protection of bio-diversity could be enhanced through the Green Paper.
Mr Dowling answered that, since South Africa was a water-stressed country, this would always be recurring issue. Desalination technologies were being investigated, although the plugging of desalination plants into estuaries was not a good idea because it would place a further burden on the already poor quality in general of South Africa’s rivers. There was a need to look at this issue differently so as to not damage any ecosystems. Marine protected areas played a significant role coastal management. South Africa should therefore be looking into securing the nursery grounds which marine-protected areas offered. The Green Paper needed to move away from coastal armouring.
Ms C Zikalala (IFP) asked for greater clarity as to why Wessa urged caution around the stimulation of new industries, as well as on aquaculture monitoring and placing an emphasis on local food security.
Mr Dowling answered that it was difficult, as yet, to comment on the new industries. However, a precautionary principle needed to be applied here. The risk-averse approach noted in the Green Paper needed to be applied to new industries which were yet to emerge. In relation to aquaculture, he said that the concerns meant that the aquaculture must be carefully managed. Emphasising food security was a very basic skill, and this would not require significant budgets.
Dr M Oriani-Ambrosini (IFP, Portfolio Committee on Finance) asked whether there was any concrete evidence which would necessitate the introduction of a carbon tax.
Mr Dowling answered that, although human contribution to high carbon levels was relatively small, these carbons were both cumulative and not easily absorbed naturally.
Mr J Skosana (ANC) asked whether there was a working relationship between national, provincial and local governments. He wondered where it was most urgent that the emphasis should be placed.
Mr Dowling answered that although the Green Paper correctly set out to involve all levels of government, the practical side of this would be harder to execute. The emphasis on food security should be happening in all places where people lived. The priority should move away from whether land was suitable or not for agriculture, and should instead concentrate on how space could be utilised more wisely.
Ms J Manganye (ANC) asked how transparent Wessa suggested that government must be, and how direct citizen participation could be secured.
Mr Dowling answered that if the Paper was to honour its inclusive approach, Government needed to be very transparent. Involvement of civil society groups as well as reference committees could help with this. Citizens should be brought on board to assist with monitoring and quarterly provincial meetings should also be held as this would help the different spheres of government to speak to each other better.
Off the Ground submission
Mr S Tladi, Director, Off the Ground, said that South Africa’s commitment to reducing its Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions was largely dependent on receiving the necessary finance, technology and support from the international community. It should, however, act with urgency and not wait for such support. There needed to be clarity around polluting institutions. The approach also needed to be more people-centred, as too much of the communication around these issues was done in English. The provincial public hearings were also held at venues which were largely inaccessible to those who relied on public transport.
Mr Tladi pointed out that the use of the term ‘climate-resistant crop varieties‘ was ambiguous, as it could possibly refer to genetically-modified foods, which were an unsustainable option. Education and awareness should also be extended to both urban and rural areas. Energy recovery from waste could be sufficient to negate the need for nuclear and/or coal energy. Off the Ground also recommended a ’zero waste’ approach. It suggested the placement of climate change officials in all three spheres of Government. There was also a concern around the fact that carbon capture and storage technology had not been proven effective.
Ms Zikalala asked how people on the ground could be made aware of exactly what climate change was.
Mr Tladi answered that his organisation communicated with schools as well as through community-based organisations. In its communications it not only utilised language that made it easy for people to grasp what was being said, but also used practical examples of how climate change was affecting them, and promoted the use of indigenous knowledge systems.
The Association of Cementitious Material Producers (ACMP) submission
Mr D Rama, Executive Director, Associationof Cementitious Material Producers, said that the industry supported the Green Paper although it felt that the forthcoming White Paper should, instead, adopt a more sectoral approach. If the cementitious materials sector was to meet the emission targets set, it would have to cut its production. The various interventions that the sector had already put in place over the past ten years had resulted in a reduction in its carbon emissions. The Green Paper should have considered giving recognition to this. Some of the challenges that ACMP foresaw included the need for support for rail freight, and the need for technology in order to ensure energy efficiency. It was concerned that the definition of waste could have unintended consequences. There was a need to balance targets against benchmarks in relation to regulatory decision-making. Its recommendations included engaging with the rail network in order to garner more support from it, economic instruments for low-carbon policy, recognition of prior work done towards reducing emissions and greater clarity around the different role-players in Government.
Mr Morgan asked for more detail around the proposed sectoral approach, especially stressing the difference between domestic and transnational sectoral policies.
Mr Rama answered that, based on the fact that the industry was energy intensive, the World Business Council on Sustainable Development adopted a benchmark approach, as opposed to a target approach, for the European Union. The South African sector had set its own benchmarks and was fairing well in this regard. More information around this could be provided to the Committee in writing.
South Durban Community Environment Alignment submission
Mr D D’Sa, Co-ordinator, South Durban Community Environment Alignment, said that many people were excluded from the provincial public hearings on the Green Paper, as these were held at venues that were hard to access by means of public transport. This had denied many members of civil society groups the opportunity to engage meaningfully in these discussions. In addition, the officials who facilitated these discussions used vocabulary that was beyond the grasp of many people, and also only spoke in English. The Green Paper itself made no mention of South Africa’s approach to the international negotiations. The targets set for the lowering of South Africa’s greenhouse gas emissions were unlikely to be met.
Mr Skosana asked what input the South Durban Community Environment Alignment could provide to the Committee to assist South Africa during the negotiations at the Conference of Parties (COP 17).
Mr D’Sa answered that it had been working on preparing for COP 17 as it viewed this as an opportunity to improve the quality of life of South Africans and the world’s people.
The Chairperson asked matters should proceed, considering that many of the world’s major powers would be withdrawing from the Kyoto Protocol.
Mr D’Sa answered that, given the recent disaster in Japan, he thought that some of these powers would rethink their position. South Africa should lead the way in this regard.
Timberwatch Coalition submission
Mr W Menne, Project Co-ordinator, Timberwatch Coalition, said that the Green Paper lacked a meaningful action plan and drew too heavily on unproven solutions. Carbon capture and storage had not been proven to reduce emissions. Nuclear energy was an unsafe and unsustainable option. Carbon trading was also problematic as it enabled industrialised countries to continue their high carbon-emitting practices. Proposed solutions by Timberwatch included a move towards organic agriculture, improved public transport, better town planning, a reduction in over-consumption, targeted energy and carbon taxes, a move towards renewable solar energy, landscape restoration and having a decentralised energy grid. The use of the Long Term Mitigation Strategy (LTMS) pie chart was also problematic, as it allowed for misinterpretation of the real situation. South Africa needed to focus on creating a green economy and also needed to provide more support to community-based restoration and ecological agriculture.
Mr Skosana asked what Timberwatch was doing towards raising awareness in different communities.
Mr Menne answered that it had been working with various communities - particularly rural communities - across the country, as well as in neighbouring countries to create a common understanding of the issues being faced.
Mr S Huang (ANC) asked which nuclear plant in South Africa was considered unsafe.
Mr Menne answered that there was significant room for error with nuclear plants. This made nuclear plants an undesirable option, given the potential for damage to human health and well-being, as well as the environment. South Africa should instead look to solar energy.
Terry Bengis submission
Mr Terry Bengis, a private individual, said that the Green Paper did not tackle the relevant issues head-on, and disguised many of the issues. It could be made more effective by addressing South Africa’s pollution levels through creating standards as to what industrial organisations were permitted to put out into the atmosphere. Certain companies, such as Eskom, Sappi, Mondi, ArcelorMittal, Shell and others, who polluted as part of their operations, could be isolated, and given a maximum of 90 days in which to furnish a plan around how they intended to reduce emissions. These plans should then be implemented within 180 days, failing which sanctions should be imposed on these companies. Paper companies such as Sappi and Mondi should also have their use of water monitored, as pollution from their operations often affected people downstream. In addition, if refined fuel was to be imported it should be up to the fuel companies to ensure distribution. Carbon trading offered an opportunity for foreign direct investment, which, in turn, offered an opportunity for job-creation. The financing for the upgrading of South Africa’s refineries needed to be funded through a combination of carbon credits, fuel company resources and a fuel tax. Traffic authorities should also be given the power to assess vehicles for their emission levels.
The Chairperson asked whether there were any other issues the Paper disguised.
Mr Bengis answered that there were more issues. The main issue, however, was that the Paper lacked specific timelines.
Dagga Party submission
Mr J Acton, a representative of the Dagga Party, said that the Party believed that policy requirements should address population growth by limiting families to a maximum of two children per family. Other policies should address the protection of agricultural land, moderate industrial consumption, the conservation of resources, the stopping of pollution, the restoration of ecosystems and biodiversity, utilising renewable carbon-neutral energy resources and technologies, and the doubling of South Africa’s resource base without pollution. There also needed to be a five-year investment towards transformation and a move towards permaculture. He submitted that dagga was the ideal resource as it was a carbon-neutral fuel, had low-input agricultural requirements as well as medicinal and tourism value. South Africa was currently too dependent on fossil fuels and Eskom’s feed-in tariffs were too low.
Mr Skosana asked how dagga could be referred to as the “ultimate resource” as it was a drug.
Mr Acton answered that the Party wished to change existing perceptions around dagga. It was also a medicinal herb. Hemp could be used in the production of clothing as well as building materials, and therefore could be used beneficially throughout Africa.
Nelson Mandela Bay Transition Network submission
Mr J Carter, Core Member, Nelson Mandela Bay Transition Network, said that the Green Paper had no real post-carbon vision. There needed to be tighter controls around water pollution. Timber needed to be properly placed, so as not to use too much of the water supply. Permaculture and conservation agriculture presented many opportunities, and therefore needed to be looked at more seriously. Nuclear energy was not a viable option. There needed to be improved curriculum requirements for agricultural studies, as much of what was taught had not factored in the current climate. In relation to waste management, it would be more effective to have waste processed before it reached waste dumps. In relation to roles and responsibilities, there was concern around who would be held responsible for implementing policy.
Mr Skosana asked for a written submission to be forward to the Committee around suggested changes to current curriculum requirements.
Mr Carter responded that the Network would attend to this.
The Chairperson said that mechanisms needed to be put in place that would ensure a cohesive response by all levels of Government to addressing the issues around climate change.
National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) submission
Mr P Bailey, Chairperson: National Health and Safety Committee, National Union of Mineworkers, said that government should be taking a firmer stance against companies that contributed significantly to pollution levels. Carbon tax money collected should go towards reducing further emissions as well as the funding of research. The targets set were too high and appeared not to take into consideration the fact that South Africa was a developing nation, rather than a developed nation. If South Africa wished to effectively address the effects of climate change, it had to move away from a ‘business as usual’ approach. The participation of civil society was also vital. The Chamber of Mines should be held responsible for funding rehabilitation projects, and a separate Fund should be established for this. Mechanisms needed to be put in place to assist those members of communities who were affected by environmental damage caused by industry. Nuclear energy was not a safe option, especially considering the recent disaster in Japan.
Mr Skosana asked what, if anything, the NUM was doing to ensure that the industry reduced its emissions.
Mr Bailey answered that it had met with various industry leaders to look at ways of ensuring a reduction in emissions.
The Chairperson asked what the views of NUM were on the increase in mining activity. In particular, he wanted to know if NUM had looked at the impact of a possible transition away from coal energy, and the potential for job losses
Mr Bailey answered that the intention was not to eliminate the use of coal power altogether, but to instead make it ‘greener’. Workers would be re-skilled so as to make them employable in alternative energy sectors. Plans were in place and were currently being discussed to ensure that this transition was properly managed.
The meeting was adjourned.
- Sustainable Energy Africa (SEA) submission
- Nationl Union of Mineworkers Submission
- Ekasi submission
- Wildlife and Environmental Society of South Africa submission
- Timberwatch presentation
- Desmond D’Sa submission
- T.M. (Terry) Bengis submission
- Nelson Mandela Bay Transition Network Team presentation
- Nelson Mandela Bay Transition Network Team submission
- Dagga Party of South Africa submission
- Association of Cementitious Material Producers presentation
- Association of Cementitious Material Producers submission
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