The Department of environmental Affairs briefed the Committee on two international instruments: the SADC Protocol on Environmental Management and the Kigali Amendment to Montreal Protocol. The Department requested the Committee to approve the ratification of both instruments in terms of section 231(2) of the constitution.
The explained the objectives, benefits and the process followed.
The Committee was however faced with the dilemna of lacking a quorum of members to express its support for the SADC Protocol and the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol and referring same to the House for eventual ratification by SA. Members were concerned that time was running out as the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) was supposed to rise on 28 March 2019. The Chairperson gave the Department the assurance that the Committee would in its next meeting finalise both instruments.
Opening remarks by Deputy Minister
Ms Barbara Thomson, Deputy Minister of Environmental Affairs, apologised for the Minister’s absence. She had some family matters to attend to.
Deputy Minister Thomson stated that she would have liked to have attended more meetings of the Committee but sometimes things were beyond her control. She pointed out that SA shared a number of parks with its SADC neighbours and that the SADC Protocol would facilitate the management thereof. It had to be ensured that policies were harmonised. Strategies and a regional framework would be put in place.
Briefing on SADC Protocol on Environmental Management for Sustainable Development
Mr Stuart Mangold, Senior Policy Adviser: Africa and Bilateral Relations, DEA, said that the purpose of the briefing was to request the Committee in terms of section 231(2) of the constitution to approve the ratification of the SADC Protocol.
The Committee was provided with background on the SADC Protocol. The overall objective of the SADC Protocol was to promote sustainable utilisation and trans-boundary management of the environment, which was of interest to the SADC member states. The SADC Protocol covered a wide range of environmental issues, including climate change, waste and pollution, chemicals management, biodiversity and natural heritage, sustainable land management, marine and inland water resources as well cross cutting issues such as gender, science and technology and trade & investment.
The Committee was given a comprehensive breakdown of the various provisions of the SADC Protocol.
Members were also provided with insight into process of ratification by SA of the SADC Protocol.
Benefits of ratification were elaborated upon. SA’s ratification of the SADC Protocol would send a clear signal that SA was committed to strengthening regional efforts to conserve transboundary natural resources and promote sustainable development. As the largest economy in the SADC region SA was most probably expected to take a leadership role in the implementation of the SADC Protocol. The SADC Protocol was in line with SA’s constitution particularly section 24 of the Bill of Rights which advocated for conservation and sustainable natural resource use and that the ratification of the Protocol would not compromise the territorial integrity of SA.
In conclusion the DEA recommended that the Committee approve the ratification of the SADC Protocol.
Mr A Singh (ANC, KwaZulu-Natal) was pleased that the Deputy Minister attended the meeting. He noted that the SADC Protocol had already run its course as far as processes were concerned. He felt that the Committee should support the SADC Protocol and take it to the House.
Mr Mangold appreciated members support for the SADC Protocol.
Mr E Mlambo (ANC, Gauteng) stated that the presentation had been straightforward. It was a pity that the Committee lacked a quorum. He too would have liked the Committee to have taken the SADC Protocol to the House. He said that the Committee would try its utmost to deal with the SADC Protocol as speedily as possible.
Mr M Rayi (ANC, Eastern Cape) stated that he would have liked to have the full SADC Protocol before him so that he could have had a look at the Articles that were referred to in the briefing. He pointed out that the briefing document stated that one country ratified the SADC Protocol whereas Mr Mangold had stated that three countries had ratified. He noted the processes of consultation that the SADC Protocol had gone through. The Protocol had been signed as far back as 2014. There was a likelihood of the Protocol not being ratified by SA given that the Committee at present lacked a quorum to support it and hence could not refer it to the House. There was only three weeks left before the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) rose on 28 March 2019. The NCOP’s last plenary was scheduled on that day. The SADC Protocol would perhaps have to be approved by the Sixth Parliament. Why had there been a delay in referring the SADC Protocol to the NCOP?
Mr Rayi asked the DEA whether there was a similar protocol for the whole continent. He asked whether there were any financial implications around ratifying the SADC Protocol. Would there be a fund to implement the objectives of the SADC Protocol? Were there policies and a legislative framework in place or would it only be done after the SADC Protocol was ratified. He also asked about other countries that were supposed to ratify the SADC Protocol.
Mr Mangold apologised to the Committee for not circulating the full document on the SADC Protocol. It was quite an elaborate document. At the time of presenting the SADC Protocol to the Portfolio Committee on Environmental Affairs there was only one country that had ratified ie Swaziland. Subsequently Namibia and Mauritius had also ratified the SADC Protocol. If SA ratified, the total would be four. He apologised for the delay in bringing the SADC Protocol to the NCOP. The SADC Protocol had been presented to the National Assembly a year ago and the plan had been for it to be presented to the NCOP shortly thereafter. He observed that at African Union level there was an African Continent Convention called the Maputo Convention. The Maputo Convention had been adopted by the African Union in 2003. Its predecessor had been the Algerian Convention that had been adopted in 1968. It was evident that Africa had been conservation conscious for a long time. The Maputo Convention had come into force two to three years ago. Things were also progressing at continental level. On financial implications, he explained that it depended on the level of how implementation took place. It depended on resources that were available from respective countries. In all likelihood SA would take the lead.
Ms Nosipho Ngcaba, Director General, DEA, responded that SA as a member of the SADC already made contributions. Additional funding requirements could be looked at. SA would continue to invest at the level that it currently was. SA played a leadership role on resources and infrastructure. The DEA at this point could not give a figure off hand. On a legislative framework, she noted that SA as a member of the SADC contributed to the harmonisation of legislation. In SADC, efforts were made to align legislation. There had been some cooperation on the legislative front. The National Environmental Management Act (NEMA) had been used to compare notes with other SADC members. Countries that SA had worked with were Zimbabwe and Lesotho. A list of legislation from other SADC countries compared to what SA had could be provided to the Committee. SA did provide leadership on certain aspects of environmental legislation.
Deputy Minister Thomson said that it was a pity that the Committee had not quorated in order to finalise the SADC Protocol. She asked whether it was not possible for the Committee to meet later in the week or the following week to push the SADC Protocol through. She could not stress enough the importance of the SADC Protocol to be finalised and ratified. She asked the Chairperson to try his utmost to have the SADC Protocol finalised within the fifth parliament.
The Chairperson thanked the DEA for the briefing. The urgency of the Committee’s acceptance of the SADC Protocol would be discussed with the Committee’s whip. The Committee would in its next meeting ensure that there was a quorum of members so that the SADC Protocol could be dealt with. He was concerned about poaching in the SADC countries and agreed that the SADC Protocol needed to be ratified by SA. He understood the importance of having the SADC Protocol finalised.
Mr Singh asked whether it was possible for members of the Committee to in writing vote in support of the SADC Protocol from afar without having a meeting. In this way the SADC Protocol could still be finalised within the fifth parliament.
Briefing on the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer (to include Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs))
Mr Obed Baloyi, Chief Director: Chemicals Management, DEA, said that the purpose of the briefing was to request the Committee in terms of section 231(2) of the constitution to approve the ratification of the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol.
The aim of the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol was to phase down HFCs. HFCs were greenhouse gases falling under the scope of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). HFCs were introduced to the Montreal Protocol as a replacement for Hydrochlorocarbons (HCFCs).
Members were provided with insight into provisions of the amended Montreal Protocol requiring new reporting of data and information on the production, import and export of each HFC that was listed. A Multilateral Fund (MLF) had been established to support developing countries financially on the phasing down of HFCs.
The Committee was given a breakdown of phase-down schedules which applied to SA.
In conclusion the DEA recommended that the Committee approve the ratification of the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol.
Mr Rayi asked for the full document on the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol to be submitted to the Committee. He asked how many countries had ratified the Kigali Amendment. Could a county ratify the Kigali Agreement without having ratified the Montreal Protocol and vice versa? He asked what the implications were. He understood that there was a fund to implement the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol and asked what SA’s contribution was.
Mr Rayi asked what the status of the ozone layer was. What was the target set for the recovery of the ozone layer? He also asked how the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol was located in the broader United Nations framework of climate change. He asked the DEA about the implications of President Donald Trump withdrawing from signing the Paris Agreement were. He asked whether the USA had ratified the Kigali Amendment. He asked about the timeframes mentioned in the briefing. What were they for?
Ms Ngcaba replied that while the USA might not sign new multilateral agreements, it was still involved in sustainable development objectives. Some states in the USA were still trying to reduce carbon emissions. Work was still being done in the context of multilateralism. On financial implications there was a global funding mechanism to fund the phasing down of harmful chemicals. SA’s phasing down was mainly by its private sector. SA was trying to access the funding for the phasing down to be done. On how the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol was located within the Vienna Convention she noted that there were inter-linkages between climate, biodiversity and land.
Mr Baloyi pointed out that the USA had ratified the Kigali Amendment and was in agreement with it. The USA had proposed the Kigali Amendment. It had happened under President Barack Obama. So far the USA had met its obligations and was supporting developing countries. He explained that HFC was a greenhouse gas. There were linkages between the Montreal Protocol and the Vienna Convention. He said that it was hoped to heal the ozone layer by 2050. This was an estimate. There was a concern however that new Chlorofluorocarbon (CFC) emissions had been picked up from China. It could affect the 2050 goal. He responded that in total there were 65 ratifications of which 24 were from Africa. Of the 24 there were eight from the SADC countries. He explained that a country had to be a party to the Montreal Protocol in order to be part of the Kigali Amendment. He pointed out that the timeframes were around reporting. There was a need to report. On HFCs, there was no reporting requirement as yet.
Deputy Minister Thomson said that the actions of President Trump were a concern. It was an unwise on the part of the USA. The USA however did still participate in international platforms. For all she knew President Trump was acting on his own. The USA seemed not to be speaking with one voice.
Mr Singh said that SA had to ratify both SADC Protocol and the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol with urgency. The Committee should do its best and not fail SA’s future generations. Leaving it up to the sixth parliament was not desirable as it could take very long. He once again asked about members providing their support for the SADC Protocol and the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol in writing without having to attend a meeting.
The meeting was adjourned.
- Consolidated Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer
- Annexure 1-Protocol on Environment Management for Sustainable D
- SA’s Proposed Ratification of Amendment to Montreal Protocol on Substances that deplete ozone layer to include Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs)(The Kigali Amendment)
- Ratification of SADC Protocol on Environmental Management for Sustainable Development
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