Bad for jobs
SA has agreed to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions, but what are the labour and the economic implications?
All companies will receive a “quota” of how much gas they may release in that year.
Pollution plan: Companies must submit plans on how pollution can be prevented and how the budget can be adhered to.
Accountability: A system will be put in place so that information can be gathered on how companies are faring in terms of greenhouse gas emissions and whether they are remaining within their budgets.
Judy Beaumont, deputy director-general of the department of environmental affairs, admitted that the South African economy was already facing many challenges.
“We cannot just add another challenge. But at the same time, we must realise that we have entered into an agreement and we must honour it. It’s about balancing development and the environment.”
According to Beaumont, it was important for South Africa to sign the agreement for the sake of the country’s international image.
If South Africa had not signed it, we would have been subject to penalties.
“However, we are not entering this without it being investigated properly,” she said. Various talks are now taking place:
The department of environmental affairs is engaging in discussions with industries, mines and all businesses that may be affected;
A socioeconomic impact study is being done that will give an indication of where the government will have to help to mitigate the effect of the agreement;
In cooperation with the department of economic development, an investigation is being done to find out which industries will be hit with job losses; and
The department of science and technology is investigating which technologies are needed in South Africa to make the transition easier.
“The question is: if we do ever-less energyintensive activities, what will it mean for job losses? We are trying to plan for this,” Beaumont said.
“Even though our economy is in trouble and the threat of job losses is serious, we need to start working on this.”
Meanwhile, South African companies can submit voluntary greenhouse gas budgets until 2020.
Molewa announced that such companies would be eligible for a tax deduction of 5% when the new greenhouse gas emission legislation takes effect.
According to Mukoki, we must look at how the agreement can be met without “killing industries” and causing job losses.
He agreed that South Africa should participate in the agreement. “We cannot be seen as a traitor state. We need access to the international markets. But we cannot let a problem get the better of us. If you have a flat wheel, you get a jack and you jack your car up, and if your jacket gets dirty in the process, you send it to the dry cleaners afterwards.”