We are making headway towards an energy-efficient economy

RIGHT OF REPLY

The article ‘Too much wiggle room’ on emissions regrettably did not give the department of environmental affairs the right to reply to a number of sweeping statements and generalisations – namely, that the country’s climate change response policy favours large corporate polluters and that we have one of the most energy-inefficient economies in the world.

In December, at the 21st Conference of Parties (COP21) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Paris, parties will work towards a new legal agreement to apply to all countries from 2020. In preparation, countries have agreed to publicly outline what post-2020 climate actions they intend to take under this new agreement, known as intended nationally determined contributions.

Prior to communicating these to the convention secretariat, we convened a series of stakeholder workshops around the country. A number of sector role-players, civil society organisations, academic institutions, community groups and ordinary South Africans made submissions based on the draft document.

It is unclear, then, why your correspondent surmises that communities have not been consulted. We are well on track to submit our intended nationally determined contributions before the October 1 deadline, demonstrating political commitment to tackling climate change.

Like most developing countries, we are vulnerable to the effects of climate change owing to our resource extraction-based economy and our developmental challenges. Unless urgently addressed, we could see the developmental gains scored by our young democracy eroded as increased food and water insecurity exacerbates poverty, hunger and disease.

Our national climate change response policy is guided by the imperative to protect those most vulnerable. We have stressed throughout that our approach is in the context of sustainable development. While we can do more to scale up our effort, to claim that we have disregarded the impact of climate change on our people is unfair.

For instance, several projects are being piloted in KwaZulu-Natal, the Northern Cape and Limpopo that increase resilience through interventions such as early warning systems, climate-smart agriculture and climate-proofing settlements. This is in addition to the substantial adaptation projects being rolled out by the departments of agriculture, forestry and fisheries, and land and rural development.

The claim that our climate change response policy “favours large corporate polluters” is also unsubstantiated. Most emission reduction measures in the policy will be implemented by the economic sectors and companies. We are currently allocating carbon budgets to companies, which will contribute to the country’s emission reduction goals.

The claim that South Africa has “one of the most energy-inefficient economies in the world” is a half-truth. A recently published report by the energy department indicates that we have improved significantly – not only with regard to the energy intensity of our economy, but also in implementing general energy-efficient measures countrywide.

Between 2000 and 2012, the energy intensity of the economically productive sectors was reduced by more than 28%, while that of the residential sector fell by more than 15%. Although this can be attributed to a host of factors, total energy savings due to efficiency improvements in various sectors is to be welcomed.

South Africa remains on track to meet the energy efficiency targets set under our 2005 strategy. Furthermore, we continue to attract major investment through the renewable energy independent power producers programme.

South Africa is a developing country and will continue to push for space to develop – while transitioning to a lower carbon- and climate-resilient economy and society.

It is in our national interest to consider our developmental requirements and our obligation to reduce poverty, unemployment and inequality while not impeding economic development. This is why at COP21 we will push for an agreement that is fair, effective and ambitious – and strengthens a multilateral response to the global climate change challenge.

Commitments under the Paris agreement will be nationally determined and in accordance with the convention principles of common but differentiated responsibilities and capabilities.

Countries like ours, with a host of developmental challenges and priorities, require the means to be able to significantly reduce emissions and adapt to an ever-changing climate.

It is assumed that the Paris agreement will provide the mechanisms and tools to enhance international and regional co-operation on mitigation and adaptation. The success of Paris ultimately rests on a recognition that climate change is a global problem requiring a global solution.

Edna Molewa is minister of environmental affairs. Follow her on Twitter: @BEMolewa

Advertisting

Workers fight job-creation ‘mess’

Former Ekurhuleni workers argued in court that a programme promising to equip them with skills simply acted as a labour broker for the municipality

Court dissolves local municipality

Landmark judgment paves the way for South Africans to use legal system to hold councils responsible

Mabuza’s ‘distant relative’ scored big

Eskom’s woes are often because of boiler problems at its power plants. R50-billion has been set aside to fix them, but some of the contracts are going to questionable entities

ANC faction gunning for Gordhan

The ambush will take place at an NEC meeting about Eskom. But the real target is Cyril Ramaphosa
Advertising

Press Releases

New-style star accretion bursts dazzle astronomers

Associate Professor James O Chibueze and Dr SP van den Heever are part of an international team of astronomers studying the G358-MM1 high-mass protostar.

2020 risk outlook: Use GRC to build resilience

GRC activities can be used profitably to develop an integrated risk picture and response, says ContinuitySA.

MTN voted best mobile network

An independent report found MTN to be the best mobile network in SA in the fourth quarter of 2019.

Is your tertiary institution is accredited?

Rosebank College is an educational brand of The Independent Institute of Education, which is registered with the Department of Higher Education and Training.

Is your tertiary institution accredited?

Rosebank College is an educational brand of The Independent Institute of Education, which is registered with the Department of Higher Education and Training.

VUT chancellor, Dr Xolani Mkhwanazi, dies

The university conferred the degree of Doctor of Science Honoris Causa on Dr Xolani Mkhwanazi for his outstanding leadership contributions to maths and science education development.

Innovate4AMR now in second year

SA's Team pill-Alert aims to tackle antimicrobial resistance by implementing their strategic intervention that ensures patients comply with treatment.

Medical students present solution in Geneva

Kapil Narain and Mohamed Hoosen Suleman were selected to present their strategic intervention to tackle antimicrobial resistance to an international panel of experts.