SA con­tin­ues to be a leader in ef­forts to ad­dress cli­mate change, writes

CityPress - - Business -

Ire­fer to the ar­ti­cle by Aldi Schoe­man, “Paris cli­mate deal: Good for the en­vi­ron­ment, bad for jobs” (City Press, May 15 2016).

I am very con­cerned about the man­ner in which the jour­nal­ist has mis­in­ter­preted key mes­sages from the in­ter­view. I there­fore would like this op­por­tu­nity to set the record straight.

In par­tic­u­lar, I want to re­spond to the slant pre­sented in the ar­ti­cle that South Africa signed the Paris agree­ment on cli­mate change for the “sake of the coun­try’s in­ter­na­tional im­age”, that our coun­try would oth­er­wise have been “subject to penal­ties” and that tak­ing ac­tion to re­spond to cli­mate change would re­sult in job losses.

South Africa, along with most African and de­vel­op­ing coun­tries, is al­ready ex­pe­ri­enc­ing the ef­fects of cli­mate change.

Our coun­try faces po­ten­tially se­vere im­pacts on our wa­ter and food se­cu­rity, health, bio­di­ver­sity, and on hu­man set­tle­ments and in­fra­struc­ture.

South Africa is also a con­trib­u­tor to cli­mate change, with green­house gas emis­sions re­sult­ing mainly from en­ergy pro­duc­tion and con­sump­tion.

In this con­text, South Africa has been ac­tively in­volved, and con­tin­ues to be a leader, in the mul­ti­lat­eral ef­fort to ad­dress this global chal­lenge.

In Dur­ban, three years ago, un­der South Africa’s lead­er­ship, world lead­ers launched a ne­go­ti­a­tion process to de­velop a fair, am­bi­tious and legally bind­ing mul­ti­lat­eral cli­mate change sys­tem that en­sures the fair par­tic­i­pa­tion of all coun­tries.

On De­cem­ber 12 2015, in Paris, the par­ties to the UN Frame­work Con­ven­tion on Cli­mate Change unan­i­mously adopted the Paris Agree­ment and a pack­age of sup­port­ing de­ci­sions cov­er­ing cli­mate ac­tion in the pre- and post2020 pe­ri­ods.

This marks the be­gin­ning of a new era of in­ter­na­tional co­op­er­a­tion to ad­dress cli­mate change.

At the Paris COP21, South Africa once again played a lead­er­ship role, lead­ing the de­vel­op­ing coun­try group – the Group of 77 plus China – and play­ing a key role in the African Group.

Con­trary to the jour­nal­ist’s con­clu­sion that South Africa signed the agree­ment for the sake of im­age and to avoid penal­ties, South Africa is an ac­tive and in­ter­na­tion­ally re­spected leader in the mul­ti­lat­eral and na­tional ef­fort to re­spond to cli­mate change. Fur­ther, there is no such thing as a “penalty” for not sign­ing the agree­ment.

On April 22 2016, Min­is­ter of En­vi­ron­men­tal Af­fairs Edna Molewa signed the Paris Agree­ment on be­half of South Africa, join­ing 175 world lead­ers on this his­toric day at the UN in New York.

It will en­ter into force 30 days af­ter at least 55 coun­tries, ac­count­ing for at least 55% of global green­house gas emis­sions, de­posit their in­stru­ments of rat­i­fi­ca­tion.

South Africa has com­menced do­mes­tic rat­i­fi­ca­tion pro­ce­dures to en­able en­try into force for im­ple­men­ta­tion of the agree­ment in 2020.

Guided by Vi­sion 2030 in the Na­tional De­vel­op­ment Plan and the Na­tional Cli­mate Change Re­sponse Pol­icy, among other plans, South Africa is al­ready tak­ing cli­mate ac­tion.

This work is de­signed to achieve sig­nif­i­cant eco­nomic growth, job cre­ation, pub­lic health, risk man­age­ment and poverty al­le­vi­a­tion ben­e­fits. There are job cre­ation op­por­tu­ni­ties associated with a tran­si­tion to low car­bon emis­sions. For ex­am­ple, the re­new­able en­ergy in­de­pen­dent power pro­duc­ers pro­gramme has al­ready cre­ated 23 000 job year op­por­tu­ni­ties. Beau­mont is the deputy di­rec­tor­gen­eral of cli­mate change and air qual­ity at the de­part­ment of

en­vi­ron­men­tal af­fairs

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