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Climate bill must put people at the centre

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“This very hall that we are in has got very little natural light which is why we have to run this workshop with lights on during broad daylight

Picture: Xinhua/Zhang Xiuke (mp)

The Department of Environmental Affairs yesterday hosted a consultation workshop to engage on the Draft Climate Change Bill, with the MEC for Environment and Nature Conservation, Pauline Williams, calling on attendees to “remove the science in climate change and deal with practical challenges faced by society”.

The overarching premise for the Climate Change Bill is South Africa’s particular vulnerability to the impacts of climate change and the workshop gave various sectors the opportunity to scrutinise and give input into the current draft bill.

Williams said that the workshop came as Environment Month was drawing to a close and just days after Minister Edna Molewa has concluded her European visit to attend the Petersburg Climate Dialogue and the 2nd Session of the Ministerial on Climate Action, where she reiterated South Africa’s stance that climate policy should “reflect solidarity and put people at the centre”.

“This Climate Change Bill is a true reflection of our zeal as a country to put people at the centre and this is a platform to source their views and inputs. We do this collectively in order to communicate and implement an effective nationally-determined climate change response, including mitigation and adaptation actions, that represents the Republic’s fair contribution to the global climate change response.

“We do this so that we can build an effective climate change response strategy and the long-term just transition to a climate resilient and lower carbon economy and society in the context of an environmentally sustainable development framework,” Williams said.

She added that society could no longer afford to selfishly draw on exhaustible resources of nature as if the environment was a commodity that could be replenished.

“Climate change is real and here and our responsibility is to act and act at the pace faster than the occurring damage. We only have this one environment and we have to do all we can to preserve it for our children and our children’s children.

“Climate change represents an urgent and potentially irreversible threat to humans and the planet.The amount of greenhouse gases emitted through human activities should be limited to the same levels that trees, soil and oceans can absorb naturally, and to keep global temperatures down,” Williams stated. She further called on attendees to “remove the science in climate change and deal with the practical challenges faced by society”.

“This very hall that we are in has got very little natural light which is why we have to run this workshop with lights on during broad daylight.

“If we are serious about climate change, how come we do not have a single government building that uses solar energy? Some do not even have energy-saving light bulbs. As the lead department in this Province we must be the change we want to see in our communities and I am therefore instructing both the HOD and the responsible director to ensure that by the beginning of the next financial year we only use solar power at work,” Williams concluded.