Time for en­vi­ron­men­tal ac­tion, not more hot air from politi­cians

Post - - OPINION -

JUNE 5 was de­clared World En­vi­ron­ment Day in an at­tempt to gal­vanise gov­ern­ments, in­sti­tu­tions and so­ci­ety in gen­eral to be­come more en­vi­ron­men­tally-con­scious.

The ar­ti­cle “Pres­i­dent Ramaphosa, it can­not all be hot air” by Desmond D’Sa, co-or­di­na­tor of the South Dur­ban Com­mu­nity En­vi­ron­men­tal Al­liance (the POST, June 12 -16) refers.

D’Sa right­fully states: “… South Africa’s own high­est-pol­lut­ing cor­po­ra­tions… place our coun­try at the world’s very high­est lev­els of green­house gas emis­sions … Our econ­omy is car­bonad­dicted.”

In keep­ing with D’Sa’s ar­ti­cle, ref­er­ence is made to my ar­ti­cle “Striv­ing for a greener coun­try” (the POST, March 13-17) wherein it was stated that Ramaphosa ap­peared live on na­tional TV at a clean-up cam­paign in East Lon­don declar­ing his pas­sion and fer­vour for low­er­ing the emis­sion of car­bon and en­cour­ag­ing a greener econ­omy.

Our pres­i­dent also fin­gered gov­ern­ment at lo­cal level (mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties), who need to play their part in grow­ing greener cities.

The ar­ti­cle by D’Sa talks about politi­cians (Pres­i­dent Ramaphosa and hot air), and my ar­ti­cle in your sis­ter news­pa­per, The Sun­day Tri­bune, dated March 15, 2015 – “Mayor’s clean air plan just a load of hot air” – states: “The prob­lem with politi­cians is that they just do not bother – any ut­ter­ances that suit their fancy with­out any reper­cus­sions be­come the breed­ing ground for oth­ers of their ilk.”

This ar­ti­cle was in re­sponse to failed prom­ises by erst­while eThek­wini mayor, James Nx­u­malo. D’Sa’s ar­ti­cle con­cluded with the lines, “… to show or­di­nary peo­ple that you are se­ri­ous, not a politi­cian who ar­rives at the scene of suf­fer­ing for cheap pub­lic­ity, but who does noth­ing there­after to help us…”.

Two NGOs have filed ap­pli­ca­tions in the Pre­to­ria High Court on June 7, 2019 in an at­tempt to sue the pres­i­dent and the min­is­ter of en­vi­ron­men­tal af­fairs.

Timothy Lloyd, rep­re­sent­ing the Cen­tre for En­vi­ron­men­tal Rights, ap­peared on eNCA news on June 10, 2019 and stated that the pres­i­dent had a duty to pro­tect the en­vi­ron­ment (no­tably in the Se­cunda, Ermelo area) where coal-fired power sta­tions are af­fect­ing the poor­est of the poor. Re­search con­ducted by the Cen­tre pub­lished a re­port which claimed that air pol­lu­tion caused be­tween 300 and 650 early deaths in 2016 in that area alone. Mr Lloyd fur­ther claimed there were no signs of im­prove­ment in the air qual­ity de­spite the gov­ern­ment’s Air Qual­ity Man­age­ment Plan.

Po­lit­i­cal lead­ers and us lay­men must em­ploy some in­tro­spec­tion.

It is my sin­cere hope (not a pipe dream) that the court ac­tion will bring po­lit­i­cal lead­ers to their en­vi­ron­men­tal senses. GONA GOVEN­DER La Mercy

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