Western Cape launches its Climate Change Response Strategy
On 24 February 2014, the Western Cape Government (WCG) launched the revised Western Cape Climate Change Response Strategy (2014) in Cape Town. The event was hosted by Minister Anton Bredell, MEC for Local Government, Environmental Affairs and Development Planning. The launch was attended by national, provincial and local government officials and councillors as well as representatives from the private sector, NGOs, research bodies, academia and the media.
Minister Bredell opened the event and provided a strategic overview of the current climate developments within the Province. He highlighted the fact that the Western Cape is one of South Africa’s provinces that is most vulnerable to climate change, with significant impacts on our key economic sectors and our poor and vulnerable communities. Damage costs due to extreme weather events associated with climate change over the past decade in the Western Cape have amounted to R4.3 billion.
Ms Helen Davies (WCG, Director of Climate Change and Biodiversity) delivered a presentation on key aspects of the revised strategy.
The two overall objectives of the strategy are to adapt to current and on-going climate change by increasing the adaptive capacity of the Province’s economy, society and ecosystems, and to contribute to climate change mitigation efforts by reducing greenhouse gas emissions through developing a low-carbon economy within the region.
The Western Cape Climate Change Response Strategy (2014) is aligned with the National Climate Change Response Policy and has identified the following nine overarching focus areas: Energy Efficiency/Demand Side Management; Renewable Energy; Sustainable Transport; the Built Environment; Coastal and Estuary Management; Biodiversity and Ecological Goods and Services; Water Quality and Security; and Healthy Communities and Food Security. In order to promote a transversal response to climate change in the Western Cape, communications and awareness raising, job creation and financial models and mechanisms will serve as cross-cutting enablers. Ms Davies emphasised the critical role that partnerships between government stakeholders, the private sector, research bodies, academia and civil society can play in implementing the strategy, and that everyone should play a part in achieving the climate change response.
The event also included a panel discussion, facilitated by Ms Kobie Brand (WCG, Chief Director of Environmental Sustainability). Key messages from the panelists were:
- Cities can be leaders in the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. There has been a 20% drop in electricity consumption in Cape Town since 2007, together with continued economic growth, showing a decoupling of energy consumption and economic growth. - Garreth Bloor, City of Cape Town
- Climate finance should not been seen as separate from traditional finance. The Green Economy work has identified many new technologies which need introduction to the market and need mass rollout. - Jenny Cargill, WCG
- There is a lot of finance available, but the key is to plan for it as part of mainstream economic planning and not see it as a separate funding source. - Saliem Fakir, World Wide Fund for Nature
- The UNFCCC process may be seen as a failure, by some, but there have been emission reductions by Annex B countries, while non-Annex B countries’ emissions have increased. There has been a great improvement in science and policy interaction. - Guy Midgley, South African National Biodiversity Institute
- There has been major uptake of energy efficiency in the industrial sector. They are seeing the opportunities associated with energy efficiency and are no longer seeing it purely as an environmental issue. - Andrew Motha, Department of Environmental Affairs
- We are not going to destroy the earth, but will rather make it very difficult to live on it, placing additional stressors on already stressed communities.Responding to climate change is cross-cutting, and departments need to break down the silo mentality of work and research. - Mark New, University of Cape Town
- Farmers have to produce, so farmers will make a plan. They know that the climate is changing and they are implementing actions. The Department of Agriculture assists farmers in making climate smart decisions through a number of tools, including FruitLook, conservation farming awareness and others. - Ilse Trautmann, WCG
A copy of the Western Cape Climate Change Response Strategy is available here.