Van Schalkwyk hails climate-change resolution

The resolution on climate change adopted in Polokwane by the African National Congress is a critical milestone that should be applauded, Marthinus van Schalkwyk, Minister of Environmental Affairs and Tourism, said on Sunday.

“As a progressive force that understands that climate change effects poorest communities the most, the governing party has unambiguously signaled it resolve to seriously and urgently address the challenge of climate change in government,” the minister said.

“The resolution commits us to far-reaching and decisive policy responses and strengthens the mandate of government to take the tough decisions that will be required.”

The minister said that elements of the resolution that could find application in government policy in the short term, include:

  • To continue to pro-actively build the country’s capacity to adapt to the inevitable impacts of climate change, most importantly in the roll-out of basic services, infrastructure planning, agriculture, biodiversity, water resource management and in the health sector.

  • To further integrate climate-change considerations with sustainable development strategies, the science and technology agenda, integrated energy planning, transport policy and industrial policy.

  • Set a target for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions as part of the country’s responsibility to protect the environment and promote sustainable development, and to participate in sharing the burden with the global community under a common framework of action.
To meet this target, SA would have to follow guidleines such as:
  • Energy efficiency improvements in industry, households and by setting vehicle fuel efficiency standards,

  • Diversifying energy sources away from coal, including through nuclear energy and renewable sources, especially solar power,

  • Putting a price on the emission of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gasses,

  • Allocating significant additional resources for the research, development and diffusion of innovative clean and low-carbon technologies, including by retrofitting existing technologies and,

  • further exploration and development of carbon capture and storage methods, aware of the challenges to environmental efficacy and cost that these interventions entail.The minister said that although certain processes should still be followed to convert policy resolutions into government policy, the climate-change resolution at Polokwane was “a strong signal to the world and a commendable step forward”.
    - Sapa

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