COP21: SA needs help to re­duce emis­sions

CityPress - - Voices - Edna Molewa voices@city­press.co.za Molewa is min­is­ter of en­vi­ron­men­tal af­fairs Fol­low on Twit­ter @BEMolewa

One of the cen­tral is­sues through­out COP21 ne­go­ti­a­tions in Paris has been the pro­vi­sion of cli­mate fi­nance to en­able de­vel­op­ing coun­tries to en­hance their am­bi­tions of re­duc­ing car­bon emis­sions pre2020.

Devel­op­ing coun­tries such as South Africa are par­tic­u­larly vul­ner­a­ble to the ef­fect of cli­mate change. Ex­treme weather, ris­ing sea lev­els, coastal ero­sion and ocean acid­i­fi­ca­tion threaten food, wa­ter and en­ergy se­cu­rity, and, over­all, neg­a­tively af­fect gov­ern­ment ef­forts to erad­i­cate poverty and achieve sus­tain­able de­vel­op­ment.

As a re­spon­si­ble global cit­i­zen, South Africa has im­ple­mented a raft of mea­sures to fa­cil­i­tate our tran­si­tion to a low-car­bon, cli­mate-re­silient, in­clu­sive econ­omy and so­ci­ety.

Our ap­proach bal­ances the coun­try’s con­tri­bu­tion to the in­ter­na­tional ef­fort with our need to ad­dress eco­nomic growth, job cre­ation and poverty al­le­vi­a­tion.

As a rel­a­tively young democ­racy, South Africa has em­barked on ex­ten­sive pro­cesses to de­velop poli­cies and leg­is­la­tion to guide the coun­try to a bet­ter fu­ture over the past 21 years. We have not been rest­ing on our lau­rels as we wait for an out­come at COP21.

Cen­tral to our cli­mate change ef­fort is South Africa’s Na­tional Cli­mate Change Re­sponse Pol­icy, which was launched in De­cem­ber 2011 when we hosted COP17 in Dur­ban.

To in­form key de­ci­sions in fu­ture de­vel­op­ment and plan­ning to build cli­mate re­silience, South Africa has de­vel­oped a set of na­tional and sub­na­tional adap­ta­tion sce­nar­ios. The sec­tors re­quir­ing im­me­di­ate at­ten­tion in­clude wa­ter, agri­cul­ture and forestry, health, bio­di­ver­sity and hu­man set­tle­ments.

We have also con­ducted cli­mate risk as­sess­ments for sec­tors key to adap­ta­tion at na­tional, pro­vin­cial and lo­cal level.

Cur­rently avail­able analy­ses in­di­cate that with­out rapid mit­i­ga­tion in­ter­ven­tion, South Africa’s emis­sions could reach 1 692 tons of car­bon diox­ide equiv­a­lent by 2050 – more than three times that of the coun­try’s 2010 emis­sions.

To achieve our emis­sion-re­duc­tion goals, an anal­y­sis of our green­house gas mit­i­ga­tion po­ten­tial has been con­ducted for key sec­tors, in­clud­ing en­ergy, trans­port, waste and agri­cul­ture. The ob­jec­tive of this study was to present a set of vi­able op­tions for re­duc­ing green­house gas in key eco­nomic sec­tors.

Once again, this was done in close con­sul­ta­tion with a range of stake­hold­ers, in­clud­ing in­dus­try, gov­ern­ment and civil so­ci­ety.

Two other im­por­tant el­e­ments of our mit­i­ga­tion sys­tem are De­sired Emis­sion Re­duc­tion Out­comes and the car­bon bud­get sys­tem. The for­mer com­prises a set of emis­sion re­duc­tion goals for the short, medium and long term for key sec­tors and/or sub­sec­tors of the econ­omy, while the car­bon bud­gets are set for com­pa­nies.

From 2016, we will be im­ple­ment­ing a car­bon tax. It seeks to price car­bon by oblig­ing the pol­luter to take on board the costs of emit­ting car­bon and con­trib­ute to­wards ad­dress­ing the harm caused by such pol­lu­tion.

The de­part­ment of en­vi­ron­men­tal af­fairs and Trea­sury have em­barked on a process to en­sure that the car­bon tax is aligned with the pro­posed car­bon bud­get sys­tem.

Dur­ing the first phase of the car­bon tax (up to 2020), com­pa­nies par­tic­i­pat­ing in the car­bon bud­get­ing process will qual­ify for an ad­di­tional tax-free al­lowance of 5%.

Our na­tional ef­forts not­with­stand­ing, scal­ing up ef­forts by de­vel­op­ing coun­tries such as ours re­quires fi­nan­cial in­vest­ment, the de­ploy­ment of new and in­no­va­tive tech­nolo­gies and en­hanced ca­pac­ity for ef­fec­tive im­ple­men­ta­tion.

In this re­gard, our call for global sol­i­dar­ity and sup­port in the con­text of the UN Frame­work Con­ven­tion on Cli­mate Change (UN­FCCC) has been jus­ti­fi­able.

Although we have done our bit to con­trib­ute to the global cli­mate change ef­fort, de­vel­oped coun­tries have an obli­ga­tion to pro­vide suf­fi­cient means of im­ple­men­ta­tion to sup­port both adap­ta­tion and mit­i­ga­tion ac­tions by de­vel­op­ing coun­tries.

In ad­di­tion, adap­ta­tion should, of ne­ces­sity, re­ceive equal pri­or­ity with mit­i­ga­tion.

This is why we have stressed through­out the in­ter­na­tional cli­mate change ne­go­ti­a­tion process that the agree­ment must reaf­firm this obli­ga­tion of de­vel­oped coun­tries to pro­vide cli­mate fi­nance that is ad­di­tional, pre­dictable and sus­tain­able.

This pro­vi­sion of the nec­es­sary means of im­ple­men­ta­tion (no­tably fi­nance, tech­nol­ogy and ca­pac­ity build­ing for low-car­bon and cli­mate-re­silient de­vel­op­ment) should build on ex­ist­ing in­sti­tu­tions es­tab­lished within and out­side the UN­FCCC, es­pe­cially the Green Cli­mate Fund.

In line with our re­spon­si­bil­i­ties as a de­vel­op­men­tal state, we have a duty as gov­ern­ment to ad­vance so­cioe­co­nomic de­vel­op­ment and trans­for­ma­tion to bet­ter the lives of all our peo­ple.

Equally, we recog­nise the cru­cial role we have to play in con­tribut­ing to the global cli­mate change ef­fort by de­vel­op­ing and im­ple­ment­ing poli­cies, mea­sures, mech­a­nisms and in­fra­struc­ture that both re­duce the car­bon in­ten­sity of our econ­omy and pro­tect the most vul­ner­a­ble.

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