Four organisations - Greenpeace Africa, Earthlife Africa Johannesburg, the Environmental Monitoring Group and World Wildlife Fund for Nature presented their comments on the National Climate Change Response White Paper. Concerns included the short amount of time - only eight days - for the public to comment.
The Chairperson acknowledged the shortage of time but the Committee had to make a compromise whether to ask for comments before Conference of the Parties 17 or wait until afterwards.
Organisations felt that the trajectory
The Department of Environmental Affairs defended its position by saying that the range it had chosen was arrived at through consensus after multi-stakeholder consultations and that the range incorporated South Africa’s Copenhagen undertaking, the range chosen by Cabinet in 2008. It also integrated factors unique to
Organisations called for a more ambitious plan and much quicker action by the Government to deal with the emissions and fast track implementation. The carbon capture storage system was discouraged and the Government was urged not to give this prominence as it had not been scientifically proven to work and that
Topics of Members' questions included carbon capture and storage, the peak, plateau, and decline scenario, how to inform people in a simplified manner how climate change was affecting their everyday lives, whether Earthlife was saying that the White Paper position was false, whether the way the green economy was presented really meant that capitalism was insufficient to tackle sustainability issues, the meaning of 'required by science', who the parties trying to move the business as usual line were, and a comment that there were many socialist countries with very bad environmental records.
The Chairperson informed Members, delegates and observers that a film crew was making a documentary for the Conference of the Parties (COP) 17 meeting and would be in the room. The White Paper was really a framework within which Government tried to coordinate and manage all issues relating to climate change. The issue affected all aspects of life and hence a response would need to do the same. Unfortunately, there was no Department that dealt with such a wide range of cross cutting issues. The White Paper was an attempt to ensure such coordination and therefore would not be very detailed. It was hoped that the involvement of stakeholders would continue. No one had all the answers to the issue but the right responses and solutions would need to be found. The DNA of the society would need to be changed such as a move from the high fossil fuel-driven economy towards a low carbon economy. The public hearings were to see if all the issues in the Green Paper had been captured. Civil society also needed an opportunity to be part of the process. The White Paper was only the beginning of the process. Even though COP17 was taking place in
Greenpeace Africa. Presentation
Ms Ferrial Adam, Energy and Climate Change Campaigner, Greenpeace Africa (GPAfr) said that GPAfr welcomed the Government response to the climate change issue in the White Paper. Its first concern was the short amount of time given to the public to comment. The two documents, the Green and White Paper were also different although GPAfr was happy that the latter did not refer explicitly to nuclear energy anymore. Another concern raised referred to the fact that the White Paper had been approved by Cabinet already and GPAfr asked Members of Parliament how the comments made in the hearings would be incorporated. Also, if the Paper was really a framework, then it needed to be stated in the title. GPAfr was also concerned about the baseline not being clear in relation to the emissions, the trajectory range, and the flagship programmes and how they were defined. The Government needed to take the lead in terms of long term goals.
It argued that carbon capture and storage (CCS) was a bad idea as it had not been scientifically proven to work and the technology for it was not viable. Renewable energy solutions were the best. In terms of the coordination mechanism, there was potential to expand that function. In term of the market based instrument, it was important to look at what the carbon tax really meant and perhaps ask the Government to ring-fence the fund and use it for renewable energy. A final White Paper needed to be written and not fast pressured by COP 17.
The Chairperson explained that the White Paper had become a policy of Government already and therefore could not be changed. He acknowledged that the eight days for comment was short, but the it was a compromise in order to get the comments in before COP 17 meeting. He assured Greenpeace that the engagements did not end there as there would be more opportunities in the future to submit more comments.
Mr G Morgan (DA) was interested in GPAfr’s comments on Carbon Capture and Storage and asked why it was not interested in the innovation that came out of such a solution.
Mr J Skosana (ANC) thanked Greenpeace for its interesting presentation. He asked for elaboration on GPAfr’s reference to the peak, plateau, and decline scenario as not in line with the requirement of science.
Mr S Huang (ANC) asked if GPAfr knew about the green fund from the United Nations (UN) and would be interested to hear its comment on it.
Ms C Zikalala (IFP) asked how the message could be taken down to the grassroots level to inform people in a simplified manner how climate change was affecting their everyday lives.
Ms H Ndude(COPE) acknowledged the comments but she felt that the language Greenpeace used was very harsh. She asked if some solutions could be suggested.
Mr Skosana asked for confirmation if GPAfr was suggesting that Government not endorse Carbon Capture and Storage solution.
The Chairperson explained that the Committee had accepted the trajectory and had fought hard to keep it that way as all targets fell within
The Chairperson agreed with GPAfr on finance and technology. He explained that at the theoretical level the policy could not wait for international funds. But the problem with taking it out was that
Ms Adam explained to Mr Morgan that the reason why GPAfr opposed CCS was that it was still in the research phase. It had not been proven to work. By the time
In response to Mr Skosana, Ms Adam explained that everything around Climate Change in terms of reduction and the targets needed to be reached were all based on documents from the Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change (IPCC) which had become mostly outdated, since the next conference to update them would be in 2015. The view at the present time was that reduction in emissions needed to happen much faster.
Ms Adam elaborated on the finance and technology comment saying that South Africa could not afford to wait for it as it would be given to the most vulnerable and poor countries.
The Chairperson remarked that given that the White Paper existed, anyone could get up and ask Government what money it had put aside for activities relating to climate change response. The Government could be hold accountable in terms of the White Paper. He agreed that though GPAfr had made a good point, it must also be noted that Government had already made a commitment and that it had to expect action on it. Even if
The Chairperson further commented that the paper did not deal with a fund for
Mr Adam indicated to Ms Zikalala that Greenpeace would like to see more information on raising awareness being made available.
In response to Ms Ndude, she explained that GPAfr was an activist organization where people said what they felt about a particular issues. Saying that certain things were bad ideas was just a view. In terms of alternative sources of energy, GPAfr also came up with its own research as well.
The Chairperson thanked Greenpeace Africa for its contribution.
Earthlife Africa. Presentation
Mr Tristen Taylor, Project Coordinator, Earthlife Africa Johannesburg (Jhb) presented the submission on the White Paper. He referred to Section 24 of the Constitution and argued that the issue of climate change required a constitutional mandate. Earthlife Africa also argued that the White Paper needed to endorse the 1.5degrees Celsius increase in average temperature. Like Greenpeace, Earthlife Africa also believed that the peak plateau decline scenario was neither fair nor aligned with science. For all major emitting countries in the global south, the peak was pretty much in the present according to data. Earthlife recommended that Parliament investigate the matter further. Mr Taylor urged the Government to look also at per capita emissions and see where
Mr Morgan thanked Earthlife for an excellent contribution to the process. He asked for elaboration on recommendations on how to structure a scientific advisory council. He also asked about its response as to the feasibility of the transition given their view that the peak was imminent, and if Earthlife thought
The Chairperson asked for confirmation if Earthlife was saying that the White Paper position was false.
Mr Taylor responded that a scientific advisory council needed to be as neutral as possible and not linked to some industry or some big non-governmental organisation (NGO). In terms of the feasibility of the transition
The Chairperson said that the rights in the Constitution were not absolute and that Section 36 had a sub-section which limited the rights so that some rights would not clash with others or contradict each other.
Mr Taylor clarified that Earthlife believed that the trajectory used in the White Paper would result in emissions that were far too high and therefore, wrong. The target of two degrees Celsius was also wrong as it was too high. Rather one and a half degrees was more feasible. The peak of the trajectory should be the present period.
The Chairperson asked Earthlife to provide the figures that it would like to see.
Mr Taylor replied that
Environmental Monitoring Group. Presentation
Mr Thabang Ngcozela, Programme Manager: Climate Change, Environmental Monitoring Group (EMG) indicated that the White Paper needed to distinguish policy and implementation. The green economy was insufficient to tackle sustainability issues. The issues surrounding water were not clear and Parliament needed to play a stronger oversight role in this area. Policy interventions on water needed to focus on saving water and not punish the poor. In terms of water demand management, for example, municipalities were unable to deal with their waste water which could be used to generate alternative energy. Effort also needed to be put into supplementing water in rural areas by servicing water pumps and windmills. More effort should also be put into making people understand how climate change could affect their lives and building their own capacity to adapt.
The Chairperson referred to the statement that the green economy was insufficient to tackle sustainability issues and what it meant. He said that the way green economy was presented really meant that capitalism was insufficient to tackle sustainability issues. However, there were many socialist countries with very bad environmental records. But he understood what EMG was trying to say as the input was very clear and balanced.
World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF). Presentation
Ms Louise Naudé, National Climate Change Officer, WWF, said that WWF was very pleased that the White Paper had come out before COP17. Like Earthlife, WWF believed that the trajectory was very high but was aware that this was a political issue not a numbers issue as there were parties who had vested interests and wanted the business as usual line higher as it affected their business. The White Paper defined the top and the bottom line and it was not necessarily wrong, but it was also not ambitious enough.
The Chairperson said that it was hard to understand the scenario in relation to the departmental ones.
Mr Morgan asked about the decline and where it would be and if some decisions would be regressed.
Mr L Greyling (ID) asked for clarification of what 'required by science' meant.
The Chairperson asked about WWF’s comment on a green fund as it had been mentioned in the White Paper. He also said that the paper was silent on whether legislation was needed in order to make the White Paper work.
Ms Naudé replied that the bottom level of the trajectory took
The Chairperson offered a document to WWF that explained the Department’s position in the White Paper.
In response to Mr Greyling, Ms Naudé said that the world had not yet reached a level which carved up the global budget in a fair way, but
The South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI) had been accredited to be the implementer for the adaptation fund. For the green fund,
The Chairperson welcomed Mr Peter Lukey, Acting Deputy Director-General (DDG): Climate Change and Chief Director: Air Quality, Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA), and asked him to explain the peak, plateau, and decline trajectory.
Mr Lukey thanked the Chairperson and apologized for his late attendance as he had had to brief a National Council of Provinces (NCOP) meeting on the White Paper. He replied that even though the Long-Term Mitigation Scenarios (LTMS) process was a multi-stakeholder one and consensus was reached that the blue line should be
The Chairperson said that
Ms Naudé said that WWF believed that such as position might be correct but the urgency of the problem required a more ambitious approach and and that action be taken sooner rather than later.
Mr Greyling asked for clarity on whether the blue range confirmed the commitment at
Mr Lukey said that the
Mr Morgan wanted to understand the process followed by Government in setting the budget. At the present point, 2011, that was the kind of broad range
Mr Lukey said that the process ahead and bending the curve was not going to be easy. There had been discussions with large industrial sectors on the drawing of
The Chairperson said that the Department and the Committee would need to work together to monitor the implementation of the White Paper.
The Committee would continue with the public hearings in the next three weeks when it would hear from the industrial and business sector and other community organizations.
The meeting was adjourned.
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