Cli­mate change still huge threat

Weekend Argus (Sunday Edition) - - METRO - LUKE FOLB

EX­PERTS be­lieve the gov­ern­ment needs to take rad­i­cal ac­tion to pre­vent cli­mate change.

The re­lease of the UN Emis­sions Gap Re­port showed gov­ern­men­tal ini­tia­tives around the world are “woe­fully in­ad­e­quate” to bridge the emis­sions gap in 2030.

Se­nior pol­icy an­a­lyst at World Wildlife Fund South Africa Dr Prab­hat Upad­hyaya said the political land­scape needed to change by strength­en­ing the im­ple­men­ta­tion of the poli­cies.

“The gov­ern­ment needs to act de­ci­sively. This in­cludes leg­is­lat­ing the car­bon tax and grad­u­ally in­creas­ing the car­bon price, pro­mote re­new­able en­ergy and en­ergy ef­fi­ciency, wean­ing our­selves off our fos­sil-fu­els ad­dic­tion by re­duc­ing sub­si­dies to car­bon-in­ten­sive in­dus­trial pro­cesses and sup­port­ing non-state and sub­na­tional ac­tion,” he said.

Upad­hyaya said the gov­ern­ment was pur­su­ing pol­icy to re­duce the coun­try’s green­house gas emis­sions that in­cluded the draft Cli­mate Change Bill, draft Car­bon Tax bill and the In­te­grated Re­source Plan.

“While these are wel­come, they are not am­bi­tious enough.”

The car­bon tax is meant to cut emis­sions in line with South Africa’s in­ter­na­tional com­mit­ments un­der the Paris Agree­ment. The ini­tial car­bon tax will be R120 a ton of car­bon diox­ide but be­cause of of tax-free al­lowances it will re­sult in an ef­fec­tive tax of R48 to as lit­tle as R6 a ton.

Saman­tha Keen from the En­ergy Re­search Cen­tre at UCT said the pro­posed rate in the Car­bon Tax bill did not do enough.

“The tax is too low to reach the am­bi­tion of 1.5 de­grees,” she said.

Na­tional Trea­sury is propos­ing a higher tax rate of R600 a ton and a limit on al­lowances and has sig­nalled its in­ten­tion to en­force the tax.

Pro­fes­sor Samp­son Mam­ph­weli from the Cen­tre for Re­new­able and Sus­tain­able En­ergy Stud­ies at Stel­len­bosch Univer­sity said the Cli­mate Change bill was a good start but did not have con­crete plans.

Mam­ph­weli said the car­bon tax wouldn’t de­ter big busi­ness from con­tin­u­ing with their emis­sions and may shift costs onto con­sumers.

“We have seen a sit­u­a­tion with the im­po­si­tion of pay­ment for plas­tic bags to de­ter peo­ple and busi­nesses from us­ing plas­tic bags. Peo­ple still pur­chase plas­tic bags each time they go to shop and in most cases they don’t mind pay­ing for the plas­tic bags. ”

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