ATC100303: Report Joint Public Hearings on Political, Economic, Legal, Gendered & Social Impacts of Climate Change

Water and Sanitation



1. Background


Parliamentary committees provide a linkage between Parliament and the public through public meetings and hearings.  Through public hearings, in particular, parliamentary committees provide an avenue for Members of Parliament to gain public input on governance issues and to ensure that the people partake in the governance of their affairs.


The following Portfolio and Select Committees held joint public hearings on 17 – 18 November 2010 on the impact and implications of climate change on various sectors: 


§         Portfolio Committee on Water and Environmental Affairs.

§         Portfolio Committee on Science and Technology.

§         Portfolio Committee on Women, Youth, Children and People with Disabilities.

§         Portfolio Committee on Health.

§         Portfolio Committee on Rural Development and Land Reform.

§         Portfolio Committee on Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry.

§         Portfolio Committee on Social Development.

§         Portfolio Committee on Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs.

§         Joint Monitoring Committee on the Improvement of Quality of Life and Status of Women.

§         Portfolio Committee on Energy.

§         Select Committee on Land and Environmental Affairs.


Although an invitation was extended to all the above committees, the following committees did not participate at the hearings:


  • Portfolio Committee on Health.
  • Portfolio Committee on Social Development.
  • Portfolio Committee on Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs.
  • Portfolio Committee on Women, Youth, Children and People with Disabilities.
  • Select Committee on Land and Environmental Affairs.


The aims of the hearings were as follows:


§         To develop a comprehensive picture of how climate change impacts communities and ecosystems in South Africa.

§         To understand gaps in existing legislation and government policies.

§         To understand the gaps in government’s response to climate change and sustainable development.

§         To identity short, medium as well as long-term solutions, and the action needed from Parliament and Government.

§         To inform parliamentarians on what the South African negotiating team at the 2009 December Copenhagen climate change negotiations should be advocating for in the new international climate framework.


2.  Summary


The Committees, sitting jointly, received a range of submissions from a number of sectors, such as faith-based organisations, non-governmental organisations, banking and stakeholders involved in water and environment. 


There was consensus amongst the stakeholders and Members of Parliament that climate change is a serious threat.  The number of viewpoints on the subject focused on the following key components:


·         There was a need for comprehensive economic and infrastructural adaptations.

·         The inability of Eskom to meet energy demands: the proposed tariff increases and the regressive energy strategies employed raised a number of concerns.  Eskom was in the process of financing a new power station, which had major financial implications to National Treasury and further impacted taxpayers. The loan from the World Bank to finance the coal power station further compounded the debate on Eskom’s functioning.   A number of delegates raised concerns on this initiative, arguing that it is shortsighted, costly to civil society and the environment.  This, they noted, did not match the need for adaptation to a low-carbon, and the required renewable energy reliance.  Delegations suggested that energy creation be decentralised, and that renewable energy technologies be incentivised. 

·         The United Nations Conference on Climate Change, Copenhagen, December 2009:  In view of the international momentum towards climate change adaptation, the COP 15 was viewed as a critical meeting for the outcome of the world’s movement towards renewable energy and low emissions.  The World Wildlife Fund expressed their concerns on the value of COP 15.  They noted that many of the developed countries were shifting away from a commitment to a legally binding treaty. 

·         Other important issues centred on the responsibility of developed countries for the effects of climate change but their unwillingness to pay the price toward adaptation.

·         Other presentation focused on carbon emissions, flooding, water scarcity, mental health, women’s and human rights, business and the economy, diseases in food crops, legislation, land use, and the UNFCCC.


3. Input from stakeholders


South African Faith Communities Environment Institute (SAFCEI)


The SAFCEI was represented by Bishop G Davies. He provided a background of the organisation, which was established in 2005 with an aim to promote the Earth Charter. Climate change was a moral issue and the faith groups were concerned that the Copenhagen Climate Change discussions were being influenced by those with economic interests. He cautioned that there will be a major crisis if global temperature increased beyond two degrees Celsius.


Nations were fighting over resources such as oil and coal. Furthermore, it became evident that most countries followed developed countries energy production methods which resulted in high emissions.  South Africa argued that it would ensure that its reductions would peak by 2015.  This could have been achieved much earlier if South Africa had earlier stopped using non-renewable energy, and instead invested in renewable energy sources.


SAFCEI proposed that:


  • The mainstreaming of the concept of ecological justice is further explored.
  • There was a need for developed countries that emit the most, to compensate developing countries.
  • Citizens should have had a say in the country's use of their resources and strategies regarding energy production and distribution.
  • The climate crisis was an opportunity for a new start to live in harmony with the environment.


Presentation by World Wildlife Fund (WWF) South Africa


The World Wildlife Fund presentation was led by Ms Tasneem Essop. Climate change was a social, environment and economic issue caused by the developed nations and therefore countries needed to reverse its impact. Developed countries responsible for the emissions had different opinions that lowered the expected outcome of the Copenhagen Conference. For example, the United States of America had indicated it was not ready to adhere to the objectives of the conference.


The WWF called for a 40% reduction in emissions from the richer nations, and would have liked the global emissions to peak by 2017. The WWF raised its concern over the refusal of the United States of America and its allies to meet the objectives of the Copenhagen Climate Council, citing that this compromised the positive results of the Climate Council. She acknowledged the initiatives, such as emission reduction programmes by developing nations in addressing climate change. The greatest challenge they faced was adaptation strategies and public finance, which helps in accelerating and incentivising mechanisms of energy conserving infrastructure and renewable energy productions. South Africa was expected to continue to push its environmental mandate, despite pressure from the rich nations to settle for a political agreement.


Commission on Gender Equality (CGE)

Ms Yvette Abrahams presented her organisation’s mandate which was to ensure the protection of rights of South African citizens against harmful threats posed by climate change. The commission believed that land did not belong to humans; instead humans belonged to the land. The world had been depending on the high emissions and economic expansion for a very long time. Petrol price increases led to high costs of living, which exacerbated inequalities amongst the communities. South Africa should reduce its carbon emissions and adhere to energy conserving strategies. This would not only help cut emissions, but it would create 'green jobs' which were more sustainable and beneficial for the environment.


In view of severity of the problem, CGE proposed that:


·         The country addresses uncontrolled population growth through the empowerment of women.

·         The Department of Environmental Affairs develops a Climate Change Response Act and Climate Change Policy, which should encompass the roles and coordination by various line departments, led by Water and Environmental Affairs and the National Planning Commission. The role of provincial and local governments’ need to be clearly identified. Climate change initiatives must be adequately budgeted for and monitoring and evaluation mechanisms must be included in the Act.


Green Connection


Ms Liz McDaid noted that life support systems for the human race, such as the oxygen and water that humans required to survive, depended on the ecological system. She referred to economic inequality and unemployment as the challenges facing South Africa. Climate change therefore, presented an opportunity for improving energy systems and sustainable jobs to assist the economy.


Climate change was an indication that the ecological system was out of balance. This was evident by notable changes in the environmental patterns such as, drought and food shortages. She argued that South Africa should have taken on an emission mitigation strategy, and not continued with business-as-usual.  If South Africa had moved to renewable energy reliance, the cost of running the economy would actually have become progressively cheaper.  By as early as 2013, renewable energy usage would be cheaper than non-renewable energy.


She urged Members of Parliament to challenge Eskom's energy strategy. Scientific studies had proved that the energy strategies were regressive and ultimately lead to bigger problems. Eskom argued that it needed to build more power stations. Monies were requested from National Treasury and through increased tariffs. There were no explanations on how the monies would be spent. This was not a logical way for a state to spend its money. South Africarequired an integrated approach. The Orange River showed that climate change was already a present threat.


Green Connection proposed that:


  • South Africa change its way of spending money on energy and infrastructure.
  • The Department of Energy take back the role of energy strategising.
  • The government had to focus more on renewable energy technology sources.
  • Adaptation finance must focus on infrastructure and housing development.
  • Groups of marginalised people required programmes of meticulous planning and care to be integrated into adaptation programmes.


Earth-life Africa


Ms Lerato Maregele, representing Sasolburg Air Monitoring Committee, cited health challenges as a result of the Sasolburg refinery. Patients suffering from respiratory diseases were not receiving proper medical attention. Many members of the delegation were ill because of the pollution, and some were retrenched because of their illness. She argued that there was no need for debates about whether the world should act or not, but instead there was a need to do something immediately about the problem.


Mama Earth Foundation


Dr Ruth Rabinowitz presented on behalf of Earth Foundation. There was a need for a high-profile role model to drive the strategies for climate change adaptation .Major role players had to stop operating in silos. There must be integration between all stakeholders so as to communicate and share strategies to move forward. There should be renewable, progressive energy conservation and production strategies, to create a sustainable and economically viable system for the future.


The foundation proposed that:


  • More research is undertaken and options explored on the use of hybrid systems for mitigation.  Europe was already using both solar and hydro power, with coal and nuclear energy.
  • More transparency was required with Eskom’s energy planning and financial affairs.
  • South Africa had to investigate Eskom’s use of the country’s financial resources and employ a full re-assessment of their role as an energy planner, creator and distributor.
  • Government must adopt the Renewable Act which has comprehensive plans for adaptations.
  • National laws must be enacted to incentivise the implementation of renewable technologies, through greater participation by municipalities.
  • An advisory committee incorporating the business sector, NGOs and academics, must be set up by government.

Free Life on Earth


A presentation was made by Mr David Lipschitz. He indicated that his organisation’s main role was to advocate environmental awareness, and to encourage people to begin to live harmoniously with the environment. Its concerns evolved around future energy provision that included transparency on the sustainability of the energy strategies employed by the government.


Free Life on Earth proposed that:


  • There was a need for a separate entity to take over certain management functions of Eskom.
  • There was also a need to restructure the supply and creation of energy so that consumers could make preferences on the energy that they received.
  • The government had to decentralise energy distribution and creation, and to facilitate the introduction of alternative energy sources.


Business Unity South Africa (BUSA)


Mr Coenraad Bezuidenhout noted that expectations were high with regard to the Copenhagen Climate Conference. The outcome of the conference was irrelevant, as South Africa had to remain motivated to change and act accordingly. Through innovation and planning, it was possible to reduce carbon emissions. An example was to move transportation of goods from road to rail. It was important to ensure that accurate reporting and verification was done, and with parliamentary oversight, a national accreditation system could have been put into place.


BUSA proposed that:


·         There was a need to devise coherent inter-departmental strategies.

·         A need existed to move to a more diverse energy strategy.

·         The creation of public sector and private sector partnerships to address the challenges emanating from climate change was of utmost urgency.


Nedbank Ltd


Mr Nelis Engelbrecht, representing Nedbank said the government played a huge role in raising the awareness of civil society, and getting ordinary people involved. Adaptation to climate change would have created thousands of job opportunities. Therefore, government and private organisations had to get behind projects for renewable energy. Eskom was not prepared to sign over power purchase agreements.


Nedbank Ltd proposed that:


  • Government and private sector should support renewable energy projects in order to protect the environment.


South African Insurance Association (SAIA)


Ms Vanessa Otto-Mets, from SAIA, viewed climate change as a risk and called for collaborative risk management. Climate change contributed directly to risk assessments, and it affected where, when and how people could build. SAIA believed that the insurance industry would be influenced very heavily by climate change.


SAIA proposed that:


  • Climate change was an investment opportunity and the cost benefit of adaptation was beneficial. It was therefore necessary for the insurance industry to work together with government, private companies and civil society.

Environmental Monitoring Group (EMG)

Mr Stephen Law, of the Environmental Monitoring Group, said the immediate threats of climate change were water shortage. In certain communities, EMG had taken some initiatives, for example, in encouraging communities to fix leaks in pipes.


Ms Tarryn Parreira, also from EMG, said that climate change has exacerbated dry conditions and drought.  This forced many people to move from rural areas to urban areas. The Western Cape, a typical example, is already struggling to meet urban water demands.


EMG proposed that:


  • There was a need for demand management strategy assessments.
  • A strengthening of social networks, between parliament, ordinary people, and even the executive, was required.
  • The budgetary process should have been more participatory.
  • The response to climate change required adaptation and work from everyone.


Groundwork, Friends of the Earth, South Africa


Ms Suzie Khanyile, presented on behalf of Groundwork, Friends of the Earth, South Africa. Her organisation was concerned about globalisation, which she believed contributed to the climate change. South Africa was one of the most energy intensive economies in the world. Short term energy source derived from fossil fuels, was not a long-term viable or sustainable option.


Groundwork proposed that:


·         Energy provision should be based on the rights of the people, as well as a need for public participation on their energy needs.

·         There should be further discussions on the decentralisation of energy distribution.

·         Government should put an immediate end to global institutions’ subsidies of more coal powered stations.


Women, Energy and Climate Change Forum


Ms Makoma Lekalakala, representing the Women, Energy and Climate Change Forum, focused on Eskom.  She argued that people had unreliable electricity, which was becoming more and more expensive. Both the government and Eskom cared more about profits. Climate change had to be taken seriously because it was a threat to everyone, especially the poor. Air pollution was also a very big problem for the health of the community.


The forum proposed that:


  • The government institute mechanisms that would ensure people were protected from carbon emissions.


Youth in Agriculture Ambassadors

Ms Wendy Tsoketse, submitted on behalf of Youth in Agriculture Ambassadors. She highlighted the effects of climate change on the quality of soil and argued that it is leading to direct financial consequences for the farmers and the communities that depended on their crops. Vegetables were more difficult to grow, often smaller in size and changed colour because of the pollution in the ground. Poor farmers were forced to sell their livestock at a loss, as the livestock were generally unhealthy and thin.


South African Bureau of Standards (SABS)

Ms Vanida Lennon, from SABS noted that the earth indeed was warming up as a result of some of human activities. There was a need for the development of a clear Climate change policy and move towards sustainable energy use. Therefore, SABS called for:


·         A clear climate change policy, citing that the country needed a policy framework that moved towards sustainable energy usage.

·         A reduction of carbon emissions.

·         Energy conservation.

·         Strategies benchmarked with International Standards.

·         A coordinated approach towards reduction of carbon emissions.


Outcomes of discussions and responses


Discussions between members of parliament and stakeholders focused on the following:


  • The responsibility of members to make their constituencies aware of the effects of climate change.  
  • The need for South Africa to devise a new set of approaches that would assist in mitigating challenges imposed by climate change.
  • There were concerns with regards to faith and other groups who were still cynical about the realities of climate change.  
  • There is also a tendency to undermine indigenous technology, as more attention was paid to foreign technologies to address the threat of climate change.
  • Questions were raised on policies of adaptation, in relation to mining areas and areas with a great deal of pollution. Regulations had to be strongly enforced.
  • ‘Green’ changes had been costly and issues were raised about incentives or the role of individual businesses to change to low emissions.
  • The efficacy of the Energy Act was questioned.


In response to the above issues, presenters provided the following input:


  • Stakeholders such as the Departments of Energy, Trade and Industry, Water and Environment had begun to work together, but more cohesion of responsibilities was required.  The importance of civil society participation at these engagements was stressed. (National Union of Mineworkers)
  • SAFCEI noted that the organisation was unable to communicate with groups who were sceptical about climate change.  Although there was an attempt to engage, certain extremist groups were suspicious of SAFCEI’s initiative. 
  • Incentives for ‘green’ change to date, is not given by the government through tax rebates, but benefits came back through long-term saving in energy costs.  The Empire State Building was just one example of a ‘green’ initiative. Initially, alternative energy sources used were expensive to install, but this building had gradually recouped the cost due to the low energy demands. (Nedbank Ltd.)
  • The problem with the Energy Act was that it left many of the initiatives with the Department of Energy.  There were many dimensions to climate change and therefore a need existed for cohesive engagement.  Although government had some good strategies, but departments still operated in silos.  There was a need for an overarching champion. (Mama Earth Foundation)
  • The country had reached a situation where the Department of Water and Environmental Affairs had no legal power to influence mining in areas in Mpumalanga. (Green Connection)
  • There was a need to focus on a national adaptation strategy for long-term implementation.  Eskom could begin to look at building solar powered facilities as this was cheaper in the long-term and more sustainable than coal power. (Green Connection)
  • An argument was made for more government incentives for technologies that used biogas, organic farming and the use of indigenous knowledge, instead of technologies that did not address the needs of southern Africa. (Commission on Gender Equality)
  • There was a need to debunk the myth that an energy system had to be based on non-renewable energy sources.  It was critical that Eskom be managed properly to ensure that it took the country’s energy management strategies in the right direction. (SAFCEI)
  • Climate change sceptics had to be proved wrong as the scientific evidence was too strong to be denied. (SABS representative)
  • Eskom, it was argued, was at the centre of most the problems.  There was a need for a commission to investigate serious allegations made against Eskom.  The increase in electricity tariffs was not only a problem for ordinary people, but also represented Eskom’s lack of transparency concerning its financial affairs.  (Mama Earth Foundation)
  • There was a need to protect the poor, and if there was a political will, there was a way.  Pollution was a financial threat as it cost the government approximately R4 billion to address the resultant diseases. (Groundwork, Friends of the Earth)

Applied Centre for Earth Systems Science (Access)


In focusing on the long-terms effects of climate change, the presentation advocated for education and broadening of research in order to expand the knowledge base regarding earth systems science. The centre intended to provide further understanding on climate change from an African perspective. Currently, it was engaged in a study under the auspices of the Department of Science and Technology. It viewed climate change as inevitable. The production of energy by means of oil and coal was prevalent, yet this emitted high levels of greenhouse gases. South Africa finds itself on the list of countries producing high levels of greenhouse gases.


The centre proposed that:


  • An urgent need existed to hold countries listed as high emitters of greenhouse gas responsible for climate change.

Submission by Terry Bengis


South Africa, as a developing nation, lagged behind in reducing emissions when compared with its peers – Brazil, Indonesia and others. A question was raised on the efficient implementation of Section 24 of the Constitution, which talked about the rights of citizens to a clean environment. There was too much ‘dithering’ about transformation, race and energy tariffs. Instead, the real issues of climate change, affecting mainly the poor of the country, were being ignored.


Pollution and carbon emissions continued unabated. There was too much reliance on government to lead the way, and if government did not provide the guidelines or regulations on emission reduction, it appeared as if other sectors were ‘powerless’ to initiate any solutions.


Terry Bengis proposed that:


  • Farmers must be encouraged to use less nitrogen, and more carbon friendly fertilizers.
  • The much-talked about National Planning Commission should become involved with climate change. A new policy could be adopted to encourage greater use of wind and solar power, and other forms of renewable energy, which in turn could reduce pollution (of rivers, etc).


South Durban Community Environmental Alliance (SDCEA)


Mr Desmond D’Sa and Mr Rishi Singh highlighted air quality and pollution as being the main concern for the SDCEA. They said that big businesses are trampling the rights of poor people. Mr D’Sa appealed to parliament to assist in their proposal to impose fines and penalties on those factories in the area that are responsible for contributing to the climate crisis. Using the Clairwood area as an example, he argued that air quality was compromised and citizens living there suffered the effects of pollution. Clairwood was situated adjacent to the harbour, and with the harbour’s expansion, increased traffic of containers and trucks increased emissions.


There was also illegal occupation of land for the use of warehousing and panel beating. He said there was no prosecution of these industries. All the increased activity made the already existing problems of pollution even worse. With the heavy pollution came health risks, causing some residents to move away.


SDCEA proposed that:


  • There should be increased regulation on the use of industrial chemicals.
  • There should be no further occupation by the industrial sector of land in that area.
  • A deployment of a system, possibly radar, to detect pollution, is investigated.


The South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC)


Ms Yuri Ramkisson presented on behalf of the SAHRC. SAHRC was tasked with assessing and dealing with complaints and violation of human rights. Climate change and its impact on human beings fell within human rights issues. The SAHRC was concerned about the violation of section 24 of the Constitution by big businesses and parastatals, in relation to creating an environment that was not harmful to health and well-being,


Whilst South Africa was a developing nation and not compelled to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions, it was the 13th highest emitter of carbon dioxide in the world.  It also relied heavily on industry for economic growth, despite its wealth of mineral resources and energy.


SAHRC proposed that:


  • South Africa develops and implements a strategy to counter the effects of climate change.


Renewable Energy Centre


Mr Pierre-Louis Lemercier noted that one of the biggest challenges facing government was its failure to respond to climate change. There was a need for a clear definition of goals related to low carbon emissions, and these goals needed to be ambitious enough to steer South Africa in the right direction. He was of the opinion that government‘s failure to respond to climate change could result in adverse impacts on food security and the well-being of the nation. The government had failed its citizens in dealing with electricity crisis. The capture of carbon and the development of bio-fuels was just a ‘smokescreen’ by government not to deal with climate change.


Renewal Energy Centre proposed that:


  • It was therefore important for government to take responsibility to educate its citizens about carbon emissions and its impact on climate change, since without education, there could be dramatic effects.


Water Research Commission (WRC)


The Water Research Commission was represented by Mr Chris Moseki. There was a strong co-relation between water and climate. The following definitions for critical climate change concepts were given:


  • Vulnerability refers to the degree by which a system copes with climate change.
  • Adaptation refers to the ability to adjust or be resilient to impacts, such as, greenhouse gases emitted from the surface of the earth into the atmosphere, thus trapping heat.
  • Mitigation refers to a shift from burning fossil fuels to using climate friendly options to generate energy.


The impacts of climate change effects such as a change in rainfall, a rise in temperature and a rise in sea levels could lead to extreme weather conditions such as droughts or floods, overgrazing in the agricultural sector, and spread of borne diseases such as malaria in areas that had previously been exempt, The commission’s contributions to climate change included: an allocation of R34 million to climate change projects, and 200 plans to develop decisions of support for rural communities.


The commission was in full support of the South African government, ahead of the United Nations Conference on Climate Change to arrive at a ‘legally binding; agreement on the reduction of emissions.


The commission proposed that:


  • Members of Parliament support the call for developed nations to contribute to the Adaptation Fund, the transfer of technology and capacity building to developing nations.
  • The government encourage and maintain an enabling environment that promotes environmentally friendly initiatives to support adaptation actions, leading to policy.


Ekasi Development Projects


Mr S Tshingilane highlighted the role of his organisation, which was to provide upliftment programmes to the youth in Soweto. He also called for the world to unite against the climate change. He made reference to the social negative consequences of climate change facing his community in Soweto, such as flooding, water availability, food security and famine caused by reductions in agricultural production and yield potential ;induced water stress; poor drainage; and soil erosion. He also commented that in Cape Town for example, the weather patterns could have a negative impact during the Soccer World Cup. He called for the private sector to expand its corporate social investments in poor communities. 


Ekasi proposed that:


  • More solutions, such as planting more trees to prevent soil erosion, could be implemented.
  • More organisations launch greening projects in townships.  The Soweto Green Project is involved in the cleaning of community parks in the area, and promotes school gardens and awareness raising in communities.


Deloitte and Touche


Mr Paul Devine highlighted his organisation’s attempts in making it possible for South Africa to attract foreign investors to fund climate change initiatives. South Africa could earn carbon credits through the use of sections of the Kyoto Protocol which focus on the greenhouse gases reduction and carbon emissions to pre-1990 levels by 2012; as well as Clean Development Mechanism responsible for channelling funds for renewable energy initiatives in developing countries. 


He said that his organisation supported South Africa’s regulatory framework, which enabled the country to register and implement projects aimed at reducing emissions. In 2009 alone, US$105 billion was traded, which could be made available for businesses.


Deloitte proposed that:


  • South Africa is part of the global scale network on strengthening the regulations on the acquisition of carbon credits.
  • The development of a ‘carbon tax’ (a system whereby a tax is used as an incentive) should be fast tracked.


The Green Network (GN)


The Green Network, a Pietermaritzburg community based organisation, was established 15 years ago. Mr Ntshingilane and Ms Ntengetywa presented the climate change related problems in their communities.  The presenters maintained that this could be seen in the frequent floods in the area which resulted in a high number of deaths of 198 people, and many injuries .They stated that there was also extensive damage to homes.


Green Network proposed that:


  • There was a need for a co-ordinated effort and increased funding to achieve sustainable livelihoods.
  • A higher level of information on human rights and education on climate change was a necessity.
  • Adaptation must be viewed as a possible solution.
  • The development of early warning systems must be prioritised.


Agricultural Business Chamber (ABC)


Ms Annelize Crosby noted that while the chamber conceded to being part of the emissions problem, it stressed the importance of the agricultural sector to be of the solution. Whilst she acknowledged solutions offered internationally, she noted that there was a need for ‘local solutions’ to supplement these initiatives. Farmers were already facing a challenge to provide more and more food to the nation, and this was proving more difficult as the sector had to also cope with the effects of climate change at the same time.



The chamber proposed that:


  • A need existed to develop further policies and strategies on adaptation and mitigation.
  • An incentive system should be developed.


The chamber supported the outcomes of UNCCC and commended parliament for initiating the public hearings.


The Wildlife and Environment Society of South Africa (Wessa)


Mr Andy Gubb noted that South Africa was already suffering diverse and many problems, which could be further exacerbated by climate change. South Africa was a divided nation, characterised by, on the one hand, a poverty-stricken population, and on the other hand, wealthy people. The earth was experiencing a crisis and incapable of sustaining itself.


Not all of South African society’s problems were as a result of climate change. There were a number of challenges, such as the non-functioning of waste water plants, pollution, and the high consumption of water by the proliferation of golf estates, which, together with the impacts of climate change, further compounded the problem. He also noted that civil society and government were not talking to each other.


Wessa proposed that:


  • It was critical to consider the importance of biodiversity; and energy supply from multiple sources rather than South Africa’s dependence on coal-based energy.
  • Local solutions should be sought for local problems.
  • A reduction in emissions and the promotion of efficient water usage.




Ms Crosby remarked that environmental degradation was worrying and needed to be dealt with holistically. She noted the changing rainfall patterns impacting on agriculture production as well as socio-economic consequences, leading to increased poverty and food security.  Agriculture should be differentiated to other sectors, as it must be considered a national asset.


AgriSA proposed that:


  • Agricultural production be modernised to cope with the high demand to provide food.
  • In order to reduce emissions, there should be incentives for greenhouse sequestration.
  • Policy implementation is simplified to adapt to the effects of climate change.
  • Special attention is given to conservation, the sustainable management of water, the sustainable management of manure; and the production of renewable energy.
  • Currently agriculture was responsible for 14% of all emissions. There was a need therefore to reward farmers for their contribution to reduction through the carbon credit system.
  • There is greater investment in crop protection.
  • There must be focused efforts on adaptation in order to respond to climate change.
  • The development of early warning systems was essential.


Sustainable Energy Africa


Mr Ntantiso said that Sustainable Energy Africa was a Section 21 company. Its responsibility entailed building capacity in sustainable energy development, and focusing on city energy planning. His submission focused on challenges related to climate change in urban areas. Approximately 30% of electricity and 40% of liquid fuels was used in the country’s nine biggest cities. In other words, these cities consumed half of the country’s electricity. Without interventions, consumption was set to double in the next twenty years.


Despite these challenges, the majority of the cities, including Cape Town, Nelson Mandela Bay, eThekwini and Johannesburg, had launched several energy and climate change strategies, for example:


  • Regulation of solar water heating.
  • Drafting by-laws.
  • Ensuring efficient electricity (new connection criteria).
  • Institutional development (establishment of new units within cities and the staffing thereof).
  • Project delivery: solar water heating rollout; efficient housing delivery; green building guidelines and regulations, efficient public and private lighting; landfill gas development, and wind farm development.


Sustainable Energy Africa proposed that:


  • The National Integrated Resource Plan, for the delivery of electricity over the short to medium term should be aligned with the targets and requirements of the peak, plateau and decline emissions trajectory of the Long Term Mitigation Strategy.
  • With respect to renewable energy: As progress has been made with the adoption of a feed-In tariff market mechanism, there is a need to ensure that this was fully implemented.
  • There was a need to better align transport systems, as the current institutional fragmentation of this sector between spheres of government hindered effective investment and development of sustainable public transport within the cities.
  • There was a need for the government to support municipal energy efficiency programme through the Division of Revenue and Appropriation Fund. The implementation of programmes was hampered by the lack of capacity within Department of Mineral and Energy, which was in charge of administrating the funds.
  • National Building Standards promoting efficiency should be promoted. It must become mandatory and be included in the National Building Act as a matter of urgency.
  • Improvement in human and institutional capacity, especially in many government departments and spheres of government.
  • The local government mandate regarding energy should be clear and definitive so that it becomes mandatory for cities to systematically start dealing with energy issues.


Agricultural Research Council (ARC)


Dr Jeenah summarised his submission by stating that climate change affected the epidemiology of disease. He mentioned that all crops should be adapted to climate change, and must be used for both food and biofuels. There was a need to develop a surveillance system for mitigation. The Agricultural Research Council was researching systems to improve soil by adding bacteria to it.


EnAct International


Mr Cormac Cullinan was of the opinion that the earth’s distance from the sun made for a unique planet supporting unique gases. Human beings have found ways to adapt to conditions and environment. This resulted in a greater use of minerals and fossil fuel, but over time, these resources were unsustainable. Degradation and damage to the earth was visible.


EnAct International proposed that:


  • Within government, many changes could be made.  Institutional reform should not only focus on traditional procurement practices relating to buildings, goods and services, but environmentally friendly options (green procurement) should also be considered.


South African Climate Change Network (SACAN)


Ms Dorah Lebelo noted that women were particularly affected by climate change, more especially poor women.  With the degree of change in rainfall patterns, farming activity was affected for rural women, while in the informal settlements, such as those in the Cape Flats in Cape Town, frequent flooding affected these households.  Despite these concerns, women are in a good position to develop strategies for adaptation.


In relation to the discussions on global emission reduction, she argued that emissions should peak by 2015, plateau and fall thereafter.  SACAN believed that binding and realistic targets must be set for reducing emissions.  She called for, amongst other things, finance and the appropriate infrastructure to deal with the effects of climate change. 


Women, she stressed should have a bigger say over shared resources, and should limit their unpaid time to community projects.  Women’s access to land and natural resources must increase. Women must be assured of participation in developing plans for the Millennium Development Goals.


SACAN proposed that:


  • The role of local government in implementing climate change action and the need to raise awareness at local level was important.
  • A carbon tax is introduced where revenue is generated from fining high emitters/polluters.


350. org


Ms Samantha Bailey represented This was an international organisation with a goal to ensure that carbon emissions were reduced. The number 350 referred to the limit of the number of parts per million (ppm) of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Currently, the parts per million were much higher. She indicated that the organisation enjoyed worldwide support for this cause and said that South Africa also had a huge stake in achieving this goal. Her concern was that a number of countries had added their names to the list which supported this initiative. However South Africa was not on the list of these countries. Despite this, she said it had been encouraging to see that South Africa had enthusiastically participated in the worldwide day of activism (24 October) to raise awareness of the goal.


South African Catholic Bishops Conference (SACBC)


The South African Catholic Bishop Conference submission focused on the wider use of solar power, and its enforcement through legislation.


SACBC proposed that:


  • Penalties for emissions transgressions could be enforced by means of taxation.


Federation for a Sustainable Environment (FSE)


Mr Koos Pretorius raised concerns about the rising levels of pollution in dams and rivers as a result of mining operations. He expanded that in areas where mining operations were rife, water tended to collect unnaturally in a pit. As a result, the river is at risk. He referred to pollution at the Loskop Dam, and noted that in the Middelburg Dam, the sulphate levels were also high. The cost of these impacts, if left unattended could be borne by the taxpayer.


FSE proposed that:


  • To achieve a solution, mitigation strategies should be implemented.  The estimated cost of mitigation could be R14 billion.


Mental Health and Poverty Project (MHAPP)


Ms Skeen said that the MHAPP was located at the University of Cape Town. She presented evidence of the link between mental well-being and climate change. She said that globally, extreme weather events such as the Tsunami and Hurricane Katrina had left people displaced, causing anxiety and mental anguish. In relation to the link between climate change and poverty, she said that changing weather patterns could induce drought, and this in turn could lead to concerns over food security, and water supply. It was worrying that if this cycle continued, it would impact on livelihoods, thus having the potential to affect mental well-being. Therefore, she suggested that mental health issues needed to be considered for inclusion in disaster response plans. Although there is limited research conducted in this arena, her presentation would help in starting a debate at national level. She said that mental health and well-being needed to be recognised as a factor of human development.


Outcomes of discussions and responses


Discussions between members of parliament and stakeholders focused on the following:


  • Green Network was questioned on what they hoped would be achieved at the Copenhagen Conference.
  • In reference to the Air Quality Management Act, SDCEA was asked to comment on the linkages between air pollution, the Transnet pipeline, water quality and the interventions it would recommend with regards to air quality management implementation.
  • A comment was made that the aim of the hearings was to engage various stakeholders on the ongoing challenges to find solutions as it pertains to South Africa, rather than discussing the agenda of the Copenhagen conference agenda.
  • A question was directed to Mr Bengis on the lack of implementation of section 24 (a right to a clean environment) of the constitution by the current government.
  • Agricultural Business Chamber was asked to clarify the meaning of adaptation and ‘’new breeds of bacteria’’.
  • The committee differed with the Renewable Energy Centre’s view that the South African government was failing to respond to climate change. Members stressed hat it was amongst the leading nations in its position on climate change. The Nairobi Declaration bound the South African government and this was the position that will be taken by the South African government at Copenhagen in December 2009.
  • In future, there was a need to hold meetings of this nature in order to engage stakeholders not only in Parliament but in various constituencies as the debate on climate change was not exhausted. Therefore, individuals and organisations will be invited to make presentations in Parliament in the future.  


In response to the above issues, presenters provided the following input:


  • The Green Network noted it worked closely with government especially the provincial departments of Agriculture and Housing.  They conducted various workshops in raising awareness on climate change. Furthermore, there was a need for more sophisticated storm-water systems and a radar system to detect storms before they occur.
  • There is a very distinct difference between environmental management and climate change. The latter entails sensitivity to weather whilst the former is more complex but centres around the issues of a legally binding agreement on reduction of emissions, which is on the Copenhagen conference agenda.
  •  South Africa would receive the ‘Angry Mermaid’ for its negative position taken on reducing emissions.
  • In relation to water quality, South Africa was amongst the few countries where one could drink tap water and the views expressed in the media were untrue. A plan was in place to assist local government with monitoring systems and a report produced by Water Research Council is available.
  • It was necessary for government to examine the quality of lives in the KwaZulu-Natal as it affected the use and availability of land. It was crucial that legislation needed to implement early warning systems and the use of local knowledge was necessary.
  • Viruses and bacteria were spreading, mutating and becoming resistant and there was a need to grow different, more robust crops which could withstand diseases.
  • The Copenhagen conference presented an opportunity for improvement and setting up goals for reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.
  • There was a concern that big businesses were allowed to continue emitting high amounts of carbon dioxide.




4. Resolutions


The committee resolved that in moving the climate change agenda from a legislative and oversight perspective, it would undertake the following:


  • More research to be undertaken on the implementation of legislation governing pollution at all levels.
  • Increased public participation on providing solutions to how government can tackle climate change.
  • Oversight visits to communities in all provinces to raise awareness.
  • Oversight of cross-cutting departmental initiatives by joint committees in parliament.
  • A joint meeting with all stakeholders and committees in parliament to engage on the many reports emanating from various conferences (Globe dialogue; COP 15, Washington and Swaziland) attended by members of parliament. 
  • Resolutions and recommendations from conferences, public hearings and seminars will be analysed, deliberated upon and follow-up action will be taken.


Report to be considered.


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