Western Cape Provides Inputs on South Africa’s Global Climate Change Agenda
Cape Town – Today, the Western Cape Government participated in a joint stakeholder engagement to gather inputs on South Africa’s international climate change position and attended by government, private sector and civil society groups.
The event was jointly organised by the Western Cape Government Department of Environmental Affairs and Development Planning (EADP), the National Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA), and the South African Local Government Association (SALGA). The discussion focussed on how South Africa plans to transition to a low carbon and climate resilient economy and society by reducing its greenhouse gas (GHGs) emissions in order to halt the cause of climate change and how South Africa is preparing to adapt for a changing climate.
In December, South Africa will send a delegation to Paris to attend the twenty first United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change’s Conference of the Parties, also known as COP21. This year’s convention is considered to be possibly the best opportunity for the global community to push for a real and inclusive global climate agreement that is fair and effective. At COP21 every participating nation will put forward their offering to the world in terms of greenhouse gas emissions reduction and climate change adaptation needs. The negotiations will aim to finally achieve a legally binding and universal agreement in order to keep warming of the planet below 2°C.
The National Department of Environmental Affairs is holding a number of provincial wide stakeholder engagements to deliberate on South Africa’s international climate change position and then come to a conclusion on South Africa’s commitment to addressing Climate Change. This final position will be tabled at COP21, Anton Bredell, delivered the keynote address at today’s event.
Bredell reminded attendees of their important responsibility with regards to climate change. “As responsible and elected officials we must get the message across that climate change is a matter of life and death. If not addressed swiftly and properly, Climate Change and its effects will impact food, water and energy security, our health and wellbeing, our living conditions, and the infrastructure and transport networks that our economic activities depend upon.”
Bredell emphasised that the solutions are available, “…the science we need to guide our decision making and responses largely exists...we just need to decide what needs to be done and then implement it.”
The Western Cape aims to transform its responses to climate change through the ‘Western Cape Climate Change Response Strategy 2014’ which is designed for all stakeholders in the province to implement and participate within. Key economic sectors such as Agriculture are developing sector wide responses to climate change – referred to as the SmartAgri project. The Department of Health is also engaging on how climate will be impacting this sector. The Local government sector is being supported to develop individual climate change responses through among other the provincial municipal support programme. Climate change project databases have been developed and research continually undertaken to improve the province’s understanding and ability to respond timeously.
Bredell says despite all the hard work being done across the country, more needs to happen especially at local municipal level. “There needs to be greater understanding that our municipalities need additional support in order to respond effectively to climate change. This concern and need for greater support, must be included in our international negotiations at COP21. If allowed to continue unabated, climate change could undermine our country’s development gains since 1994.”