SA's new climate change policy launched

The department of public enterprise’s climate change policy framework has to meet the special needs of state-owned companies, Minister Malusi Gigaba said on Monday.

“It is not always easy to maintain an appropriate balance between potentially competing financial, economic, developmental and environmental objectives,” he said at the launch of Eskom’s Solar PV Plant at Lethabo Power Station in Vereeniging.

In a speech prepared for delivery, Gigaba said the department had developed its climate change policy framework to guide state-owned companies (SOCs) to meet the requirements of climate change and to support government’s efforts to develop a green economy.

“The focus of the policy is thus to start the process of integrating climate and green economy considerations in the SOC planning processes,” he said.

The new growth path and the industrial policy action plan had identified the transition to a “green economy” as an opportunity to develop new technological capabilities which would create jobs and grow the economy.

The department of public enterprise’s policy was based on four principles, Gigaba said.

“Firstly, to optimise the overlap between commercial, economic, developmental and environmental objectives whilst carefully managing areas where these objectives conflict,” he said.

Long-term vision
It also aims to integrate climate change and broader environmental and green economy considerations into the SOCs’s planning, procurement and operations on an ongoing basis.

The SOCs must also have flexibility in the way they respond to climate change given the diversity of sectors in which they operate.

Finally, Gigaba said, there needed to be close collaboration between SOCs and government, which his department—as shareholder—would have to facilitate.

The department’s climate change policy framework was based on South Africa’s national climate change response white paper, which sets out government’s vision for the long-term transition to a climate resilient and low-carbon economy.

Gigaba said SOCs were not ordinary commercial enterprises.

“They have a mandate to achieve longer term strategic economic and developmental objectives in addition to achieving commercial success.”

Gigaba said the policy had not set specific carbon emission targets for SOCs as it wanted them to set their own targets based on what they believed they could achieve.

“In this way, we can demand a high level of accountability.”

The minister said the policy was not cast in stone, and his department was open to feedback from SOCs.—Sapa

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