The Department of Environmental Affairs delivered presentations on the developments that lead toward the White Paper on Climate Change and on the strategies outlined in the policy.
Mitigation and Adaptation were the main objectives outlined in the White Paper. Even if
Members asked for clarity on the terms mitigation and adaptation and on
The Chairperson said that the briefing was part of the run up to the Conference of the Parties 17 (COP 17) and would empower Committee Members to participate fully in the event.
DEA National Climate Change Response Policy – The Development Process Presentation
Mr Peter Lukey, Acting Deputy Director-General (DDG): Climate Change and Chief Director: Air Quality for the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA), delivered presentations on the developments toward the White Paper since 1994 and on the strategies of the White Paper. He began with a brief overview of events between 1994 and 2005. In 1990 the Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change (IPCC) had presented sufficient scientific evidence of climate change in their first Assessment Report to elicit worldwide concern and the negotiation of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The National Climate Change Committee (NCCC) was formed in 1994 and was a multi-stakeholder platform aligning government, business and industry, academia, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and organised labour. The Kyoto Protocol was finalised in 1997; the survival of this agreement would be one of the most crucial issues to be negotiated at the upcoming COP17. By 2001 climate change had become an area of research in
Over 600 representatives from government, business, the scientific and academic communities, and civil society participated in the 2005 National Climate Change Conference in Midrand. It was unanimously agreed that climate change was a reality, largely putting an end to media debate on this matter. Two important commitments were outlined. The first was an agreement to initiate a detailed scenario building process to map out how
The LTMS process began in March 2006 and concluded that a great deal could be done to reduce
The LTMS process modelled
Consensus was reached through this process that the growth without constraints scenario was unacceptable and that current development paths would not significantly alter this trajectory. The required by science trajectory should be
There were also three basic areas of divergence that had to be dealt with in the policy. The first was around what
A draft Green Paper was published in November 2010 following a long process of round table discussion to co-ordinate the diverse stakeholder and Departmental inputs. Workshops were held in every province and website was set up to create an easy forum for contributions. Focus workshops were held for specific areas of concern such as adaptation, climate finance and governance. Further research informed these workshops. Finally Parliament hosted public hearings for a full three weeks and had robust discussions and debates. 4 000 issues were raised throughout the process, giving an indication of the level of interest. After a number of drafting and redrafting retreats and Committee reviews the White Paper was approved by Cabinet on 12 October 2011 and published in the Government Gazette on 19 October 2011. The process took six years, involved ground-breaking levels of participation, and had raised public awareness about climate change.
(See presentation document.)
DEA National Climate Change Response Policy – Summary Introduction
The policy outlined two important objectives: effectively managing inevitable climate change impacts through building resilience and response capacity; and making a fair contribution to the global effort to stabilise greenhouse gas (GHG) concentrations.
The climate had been heating since the Industrial Revolution. Temperatures were now an average 1.8 degrees Celsius higher than they should be and were growing still. This October South Africa had seen exceptionally high daytime temperatures. New environmental phenomena were emerging in
The White Paper outlined a risk-based process approach to adaptation, identifying short and medium-term processes. Interventions to be taken were outlined and areas of concern such as water, agriculture, forestry, biodiversity and human settlements were identified. Resilience to climate variability would form the basis of disaster management in future. Issues such as storm surges and sea level rise were inevitable and strategies such as sea walls and increased storm water drainage must be implemented to avoid disasters.
The approach to mitigation had to balance the county’s contribution to greenhouse gas emissions with the economic and social opportunities presented by the transition to a low-carbon economy, while still tackling the challenges of poverty and the need for development. Opportunities existed and under-exploited resources such as solar energy had enormous potential to generate wealth, more so than coal. Interventions with a positive impact on economy and specifically job creation and poverty alleviation would be prioritised. Carbon had to be priced appropriately and possibly emission reduction trading mechanisms would be used in relevant sectors. Targets would be set by sector with monitoring and evaluation systems in place.
Near-Term Priority Flagship Programmes were already under-way, including programmes such as The Climate Change Response Public Works Flagship Programme which was scaling up the Working for Water, Working on Fire, and Working for Energy projects; The Water Conservation and Demand Management Flagship Programme and The Public Transport Flagship Programme, amongst others.
The White Paper considered jobs closely. Certain sectors would be impacted negatively, but there would be opportunities to create jobs and to migrate jobs from carbon intense sectors to carbon neutral sectors. Government would assess the vulnerability of the different economic sectors to climate change and develop Sector Job Resilience Plans. It was crucial that climate change be main-streamed and not be seen as a stand-alone issue. All plans needed to be aligned with climate change objectives. These objectives also needed to be main-streamed in budget and it would be important to capture international funding. With the eyes of the world on
(See presentation document.)
The Chairperson thanked Mr Lukey for the presentation and lengthy background information. He asked for further clarity on the meaning of the terms mitigation and adaptation and on the relationship between the two.
Mr Lukey responded that the debate was indeed polarised around mitigation and adaptation. There was some criticism of this approach. Mitigation referred to all the interventions required to stabilise the greenhouse gasses that cause climate change by capture and storage and to stopping emissions. Reforestation, for example, absorbed carbon, reducing the concentration in the air. Adaptation was the response to the effects of climate change, such as extreme weather events or ice melting and sea level rise. Because certain interventions had both mitigation and adaptation impacts, some criticised the separation of the concepts. Mangrove forests, for example, grow along coastlines and add protection from storm surges by reducing the speed of waves, a good adaptation measure. Their capacity to store carbon also made them a mitigation measure. The same dual impact could be achieved in low-cost housing which was typically built without a ceiling. This made it hot in summer but cold in winter and increased the household’s expenditure on energy. Putting in ceilings would reduce the energy needs of the poor while increasing their resilience to rising temperature.
The Chairperson noted that more consensus had been reached than differences of opinion. Was it possible that this could be used to bludgeon the rest of the world in to a binding international protocol at COP 17?
Mr Lukey answered that
Mr D Worth (DA,
Mr Lukey responded that
Mr Worth asked what the impact of using gas would be on reducing carbon emissions.
Mr Lukey answered that gas was more carbon-friendly than coal but was still a non-renewable resource and still created greenhouse gasses.
Mr Worth asked if underground storage of carbon had been tried and whether it was effective.
Mr Lukey responded that SASOL had a partnership with
Ms B Mabe (ANC,
Mr Lukey responded that it was important not to build expectations for the upcoming COP17 to the point that no outcome would be seen as successful. Certain outcomes were highly unlikely and pragmatism was required. Positive advances could be possible. There was a real chance that the
The Chairperson commented that the carbon credit system appeared to simply compensate developing countries for the continued emissions of developed countries.
Mr Lukey responded that this was indeed the case. Countries such as the
The Chairperson asked if
Mr Lukey answered that it was true that
Mr Worth commented that South African fuel was now lagging behind and that the costs involved in upgrading were tremendous.
Mr Lukey responded that this was true. South African fuel was as at Euro 2 emission standard while
The Chairperson thanked Mr Lukey for the informative presentation. It was unfortunate that more Members could not have been present; the information should have been received by all the Members.
The meeting was adjourned.
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