Meeting SummaryThe Committee held public hearings on the White Paper on Climate Change (the White Paper), during which many parties commented that although the White Paper represented a good start, it needed to have a more comprehensive focus, and some commented that it had not contained enough about a paradigm shift. The Chairperson outlined the government’s trajectory to the presenters, noting that
Oxfam’s main interest was in assisting the vulnerable sectors and getting meaningful participation from them. Oxfam felt strongly that mainstreaming of gender and the poor needed to be included in the White Paper. It felt that there was a better balance in the White Paper between adaptation and mitigation, but in some areas, concrete strategies would be needed. The lack of information on the ground meant that many people were not involved and had given their input. There was a need for stronger policies on finance, participation and accountability. Small scale farmers needed support on research and development around food production and needed to be incorporated into the flagship programmes. A small-scale farmer from the Swellendam area noted that there had been unprecented floods and droughts in that area, that baboons had come down from the mountains to take crops from the farms, and although there were efforts to involve the Department of Water Affairs in a local level forum, this had been unsuccessful and not much help was being given by Agricultural Extension officers, and there were problems in accessing water for most. Members asked about interaction with government, asked which Department was proposed as the leader of climate change issues, and questioned how the insurance industry could be involved, as well as what Oxfam suggested for the rural poor.
Rand Water focused on the water issues in the White Paper, and noted that nothing was said about the “ornamental agricultural sector”, which used up 35% of the country’s water. There was a need for further consideration of the effects of flooding on water quality, and more attention to sanitation challenges. More research was also needed on the use of DDT pesticides, which had a life cycle of up to 15 years. More attention should be paid to human settlements in areas prone to flooding. It felt that although
Mr Terry Bengis, a private individual, who had also commented on the Green Paper, gave a substantial submission, saying that
The Renewable Energy Centre recognised the improvements made from the Green to the White Paper, but felt that better alignment of policies was required. It felt that there was a need for a stronger low-carbon vision, noting that the White Paper did not have a clear direction or set any new paradigms, and commented that this initiative was late in coming. It queried why it should be conditional on funding from developed countries. Many of the standards seemed to be set by those dependent on traditional power sources and producers of fuel. Municipalities needed stronger guidelines. Members agreed with this latter comment, but asked for clarity on what direction was needed for municipalities.
The Nelson Mandela Bay Transition Network felt that the targets in the White Paper were not ambitious enough, and that the long term post-carbon view lacked vision. In the water sector it felt that greater emphasis was needed on adaptation and building resilience. The agriculture sector was the biggest user of water in the country, yet its current practices were water-intensive. It suggested the need to review the methods of producing water, to localise food supply, review education curricula to promote ecologically-conscious practices, and localise and decentralise energy supply.
Prof Eugene Cairncross, a member of a coalition for environmental justice, thought that more discussion was needed on who was responsible for the carbon emissions. Domestic consumers paid the highest tariffs but there was still wastage of energy, and this could be converted to increase energy efficiency. He submitted that if the costs of electricity for large consumers were raised, they would be forced to use waste gases for electricity production. He cautioned that carbon tax, if not applied properly, could be counter-productive and unduly harsh for the poor, although it might be useful in creating behaviour change. There was a need to remove incentives that favoured waste. There was a need to benchmark high energy consumers against international best practices.
Members noted that Eskom and Sasol would be sectors with a carbon budget, and the shift in pricing was likely to concentrate on them. It must be accepted that the South African economy was currently fossil-fuel driven, but more public hearings would be held.
White Paper on Climate Change: Public hearings
Mr Alan Moolman, Country Director, Oxfam, said that Oxfam had been operating in
Mr Kevin Roussel, Advocacy and Campaign Manager, Oxfam, said that Oxfam welcomed the White P Paper on Climate Change (the White Paper), because it had a better balance between adaptation and mitigation, but there were some areas where concrete strategies would be needed. It was understood that this was a process involving trial and error, but the intention to move was clear. It was important to focus on the discussion on human experience and getting meaningful participation from vulnerable groups. There was a lack of information on the ground, which effectively meant that the White Paper was setting out policy that did not cater to the needs of vulnerable communities. Gender mainstreaming could be strengthened and there was a need for stronger policies on finance, participation and accountability. Oxfam felt that more could be done to enable rural communities and vulnerable groups to participate and this must start with providing information to them, from all levels of government. It was necessary, however, to identify one lead government department in order to avoid a disjointed response.
Gender mainstreaming needed to form a principal section of the White Paper. He indicated that small scale farmers needed support on research and development around food production and needed to be incorporated into the flagship programmes. There was a need for reliable sources of finance to support the finance policy. It was important that
Ms Reinette Heunis, a small scale farmer from the Swellendam rural area, gave the Committee her first-hand experience of her difficulties arising from climate events. At the beginning of the year, her area had experienced unprecedented floods and droughts, which caused loss of crops. Baboons came down on to the land to eat the crops as they had little food left in the mountains. Small farmers could not afford the costs of insurance. Many of the farmers were using indigenous skills and technology, had learned to recover seeds and were not using fertilizer, but these methods of sustainable and organic farming had to be encouraged. She noted that she was lucky to be located behind a waterfall, so she had enough water.
The Chairperson asked how much interaction Ms Heunis had with government.
Ms Heunis responded that government officials did not come out to the outlying areas. Extension officers were not really a big help, as there were conflicts, and they were not receiving much support from the Department of Agriculture.
Dr S Kalyan (DA) asked Oxfam which department it proposed should lead the climate change issues.
Mr Roussel responded that Oxfam had not taken a definite position on which department could lead the climate change implementation, but did not suggest that a new department should be created. Perhaps the Departments of Water and Environmental Affairs could be a start.
Mr G Morgan (DA) said that it was good to see a presentation from someone who was living the effects of climate change. He said that there was a lot that the insurance industry could do to improve adaptation, as extreme weather events could not be controlled. There was very limited adaptation to deal with increasing numbers and intensity of floods. He asked about the practical possibilities for insurance products in agriculture with respect to climate change. However, he felt that no matter how much adaptation was done, including changing crops, and increased water efficiency, it was still not possible to take steps to guard against floods and droughts which would still destroy the crops and heighten poverty. He asked Oxfam about its experience in the insurance industry, and whether it felt that there were possibilities of insuring small farmers, or what else could be done for them if there were insurance products available, otherwise government would have to bear the cost.
Mr Roussel responded that
Mr P Mathebe (ANC) asked what more government could do to ensure the participation of the vulnerable groups such as the rural poor, apart from the campaigns already done.
Mr Roussel said that rural communities required the fulfillment of the basic demand for transport, to transport people to meeting places. He said that meaningful engagement was needed at various levels, for people to engage with the issues.
Mr J Skosana (ANC) asked Ms Heunis if she, as a small farmer, had means to harvest water during summer.
Ms Heunis responded that there was a general lack of water, but her farm was located close to a waterfall and river. A dam had been built for use by small farmers but it was empty most of the time.
Mr S Ndoda, Outreach Coordinator, Community Outreach and Education (TCOE), said that farmers had access to water from the river, but that there were problems around water issues. The possibility of sinking boreholes was explored but was found unsuitable. There was one programme where farmers received assistance when their topsoil got washed away during floods.
Mr Moolman said that Oxfam had been active in water harvesting having supported water projects in the previous year, such as water harvesting for consumption at household level. It had seen some successes, where it had been able to increase water security.
The Chairperson commented also on the issue of mainstreaming gender and the poor, and said that the whole idea of calling for submissions during the public hearings was part of the consultation process. Another aspect would be equipping people to speak for themselves, as often the presentations were not given from personal experience, but would be presenting something drafted by an NGO He was interested to know what tools were being used in other countries, such as India, as there must be other mechanisms that could be considered apart from consultations. He wanted to know what the Department of Agriculture could be expected to do and would be interested to hear other creative views on mainstreaming. He asked Ms Heunis what she thought the government and non government organisations (NGOs) could do to enable people like herself to participate. He felt that government should engage with small farmers more on issues such as planting crops that were drought resistant. He asked Oxfam about their views on an Adaptation Fund.
The Chairperson added that the closest
Mr Mathebe asked Ms Heunis and Mr Mdoda if they had approached the Department of Water Affairs, either as individuals or as part of a farmer group.
Mr Mdoda said that organisations had tried various times to engage with the Department of Water Affairs. In order that they should not have to keep “knocking on doors” they had proposed a process that would be participatory, through local government. However, in the course of a year, the Department of Water Affairs (DWA) had attended only the launch of the forum, and then no further meetings.
Rand Water. Presentation
Mr Mbuyiswa Makhubela, Manager: Logistics, Rand Water, presented Rand Water’s response to the White Paper, focusing on water issues. Rand Water applauded the government on the visionary paper, although it commented that some matters had not been considered.
Mr Leslie Hoy, Manager: Environmental Services, Rand Water, said that nothing was said about the “ornamental agricultural sector”, which included landscaping, whether domestic or industrial or commercial, which, excluding the growing part of the business, used up 35% of the country’s water. Rand Water believed that this sector must be considered. The White Paper also ought to expand on the issue of water quality, as increase in flooding increased water pollution. Both flooding and drought increased the cost of water quality. Attention was also needed on the sanitation infrastructure, given the sanitation challenges in the country. The use of DDT pesticide, mentioned in the White Paper, was discouraged, and Rand Water stressed that more effort was needed for research as DDT had a lifecycle of between two and fifteen years, and thus had an impact on the purification process and affected the cost of water.
In respect of human settlements, Rand Water believed that more attention should be given to areas that were vulnerable to floods, which included affluent areas.
Mr Hoy commented that
The Chairperson noted that the White Paper did not deal with detail as it was an overarching policy. Each department needed to deal with its own specific details.
Mr Morgan asked if Rand Water had the in-house capacity to deal with effective long term planning, taking into account the climate modelling and the likely effects on availability of water, given that Rand Water was responsible for the bulk of water in
Mr Makhubela responded that Rand Water did not sufficient capacity but had been busy reorganising its departments by adding a climate change division, that would look into issues and try to build from there. He agreed that there was a challenge in expanding the areas of supply. The Strategy Division would make sure that Rand Water was able to provide water to the communities it served until the Lesotho Highlands plans were put fully into operation.
Mr Terry Bengis submission
Mr Terry Bengis noted that he had made a submission two years previously, in respect of the Green Paper, and his submissions were directed towards highlighting areas of improvement for all citizens. Since 1994,
Mr Bengis pointed out that the notion of a Carbon Trading System for
Dr Kalyan asked Mr Bengis how he would see the balance between addressing levels of poverty, and taking on solutions such as solar energy, which was still very expensive. She noted that the same was true of wind turbines, which had very strict criteria for establishment of turbines, as parts had to be imported.
Mr Bengis answered that, like everything, solar energy progressed at a fast rate. Someone in the
Mr Bengis added that the wind turbine issue was a personal issue for him, commenting that
Mr Morgan asked Mr Bengis to expand on the question of attaining a higher standard of fuel, noting that Mr Bengis had been the first person to raise this point during the last few weeks of public hearings. He took his point that Europe had moved ahead and
The Chairperson asked what it meant for the present fleet to move to higher Euro standards of fuel.
Mr Bengis noted that the fuel standards inside an engine were not controlled by the engine itself but by the Engine Control Unit (ECU), which was a computer. These computers were manufactured by companies like Bosch and Siemens, on a vast scale. A diesel bakkie from
The way that
Mr Bengis added that it was possible to run a motor car in
Mr Morgan asked if Mr Bengis thought that taxing emissions would be a good idea, or if there was some other suggestion that he had.
Mr Bengis responded that the tax seemed to be very arbitrary, as, for instance, tax was merely “dumped” on a double-cab bakkie, without considering whether that diesel bakkie could be tuned to produce no emissions. It was not the policy of
Ms H Ndude (ANC) sensed that Mr Bengis was very frustrated about the issues, and she asked what he would recommend that government must do, in order to make a difference.
Mr Skosana asked what Mr Bengis suggested that Minister Patel should have said, to make sense to his audience.
Mr Bengis said he had taken part in a global forum the year before, and one question raised there was whether there was such a thing as a “developing country”, or whether it was merely a case of some countries developing at a slower or faster rate.
Mr Mathebe noted some of the comments in relation to the handling of issues like tree plantations, which were heavy on water, particularly pine, but asked for further comment on what would help the issues. He had always been told that planting trees would assist climate change.
Mr Bengis clarified what he had said, in relation to pine trees and the use of trees to counter emissions. The average blue gum tree sucked up 200 litres of water per day. In
The Chairperson referred to Mr Bengis’ comments about job creation, saying that it was an important issue for government, and Mr Bengis should be careful before ridiculing this.
Mr Bengis said he was not being disparaging about job creation, but was trying to point out that for every single project, no matter what it involved, people would claim that so many jobs would be created. However, the reality was sometimes very different. In the building of the new airport outside
The Chairperson clarified that Eskom and Sasol officials did not have any say in the climate change negotiations, and that the Committee met frequently with them. He also pointed out the model of trajectory for
Renewable Energy Centre submission
Mr Pierre-Louis Lemercier, Representative, The Renewable Energy Centre, noted that the Renewable Energy Centre (REC) was a member of the Nelson Mandela Bay Transition Network. The REC recognised the improvements made from the Green to the White Paper. It was, however, concerned with the lack of vision to align all policies. It felt that there was a need for a stronger low-carbon vision, noting that the White Paper talked about lower carbon emissions, but did not have a clear direction or show any new paradigms. It was also quite late for this initiative to be taken. REC asked why it was conditional on funding from developed countries.
REC felt that there was still room for civil society input, as this was seen as a business driven policy, mainly from the Integrated Resource Planning. It commented that many of the current standards were set by a group of entities which were very dependent on traditional power, and on producers of fuel. There was no clear direction given to local municipalities who needed stronger guidelines. REC felt that
Mr Skosana asked for clarification on the comment that no clear direction had been given to municipalities.
The Chairperson explained the country’s trajectory to Mr Lemercier.
Mr Lemercier responded that the proposals for municipalities needed to be more detailed so they would know exactly where to go, as some had difficulties getting their act together.
Nelson Mandela Bay Transition Network submission
Mr Allan Ryan, Nelson Mandela Bay Transition Network, said that the Network (NMBTM) felt that the targets were not ambitious enough, and that the long term post-carbon view lacked vision. It suggested that South Africa should be focusing on a vision of achieving social, economic and ecological resilience, which would in turn need to be informed by climate change, resource depletion, declining oil production, rising energy costs, and global economic instability.
The Chairperson expressed surprise at this the input, explaining the government’s position to Mr Ryan.
Mr Ryan continued with his presentation, saying that in the water sector, there was a need to look at using ground water and desalination as a last resort, and rather to concentrate upon adaptation and building resilience. The agriculture sector was the biggest user of water in the country, yet its current practices were water-intensive. There was a need to review the methods of producing water in the country and also a need to localise food supply. It was also important to review education curricula to integrate ecologically conscious practices. The energy supply needed to be localised and decentralised, using the roof resources in the city.
The Chairperson explained that the projections were not achievable because the South African economy was fossil fuel driven, but it was accepted that the country needed to get the ball rolling.
The Chairperson continued that in the coming year, there would be more public hearings to see where the government was going. He agreed that there was major problem in that many municipalities were weak, and new plans were needed to consult with them. The fact that there was a White Paper was the beginning of the process. The White Paper created certainty at a certain moment in time. Each department retained its line functions for each area. Carbon pricing was the main issue.
Prof Eugene Cairncross submission
Professor Eugene Cairncross, Professor at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology, explained that he was a member of a coalition for environmental justice. He said that discussion needed to focus on who was responsible for the carbon emissions. Domestic consumers paid the highest tariffs and still led to wasteful energy. Waste energy could still be converted to increase energy efficiency. The consequences of having a “cheap energy” policy would be that when growth in industry increased rapidly, this created a capacity constraint on Eskom. Since Eskom was locked into coal-based power, this drove up emissions of greenhouse gases, and everyone else had to pay more.
The main point to consider was what should be included in the response. He submitted that raising the costs of electricity to large users would force them to use waste gases for electricity production. No company would want to spend on capital when there was no return. Then this could be used as the mandate for energy recovery or energy efficiency measures, based on the best available techniques.
Prof Cairncross cautioned that carbon tax, if not applied correctly, might be counterproductive, as the poor may pay a disproportionate amount of the tax. However, he conceded that taxing carbon might create behavior change. There was a need to remove incentives that favoured waste. In relation to the proposals around carbon capture storage, he did not see the logic of building a pilot plant. The first step should be the desktop study. In order to address carbon emitters, there was a need to benchmark high energy consumers against international best practices.
The Chairperson again explained the position of the government and the business-as-usual trajectory, and explained that Eskom and SASOL would be sectors with a carbon budget. The shift on carbon pricing would focus on them.
Professor Cairncross said that Eskom might pass on the cost to consumers.
The meeting was adjourned.
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