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Your chance to input into SA’s climate change strategy

Climate Change Green Paper

The Government has drafted a Climate Change Green Paper which presents their vision for sustainable development and a transition to a low carbon economy and society for South Africa. 

The Green Paper is open for public comment and it is vital that organisations, civil society groups and the public urge government to make this document as strong and robust as possible. Project 90×2030 attended the public participation workshop where government encouraged all participants to send in detailed responses with ideas covering their areas of expertise. Below are a few points that you may like to use in your own response. All you need to do is to put these points, and any of your own, into an email and send it to jyawitch@environment.gov.za or dngobeni@environment.gov.za by 11 February or visit www.climateresponse.co.za to submit your comments online. 

We need to send a strong message to Government that SA needs to start reducing our carbon emissions as soon as possible and that we are all going to do our bit to ensure that this happens.

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  1. ACT NOW

 South Africa must start reducing our carbon emissions as soon as possible and our future must not rely on International Agreements.

2. TARGETS

I strongly urge Government to set concrete mandatory emissions reductions targets for SA as a whole as well as for each sector.  Concrete mandatory targets must be also be set for renewable energy and energy efficiency.

2. NUCLEAR

I am concerned to see that nuclear power has been included in the Green Paper, I do not support nuclear power being part of SA’s energy mix.  Nuclear power is not a low-carbon technology when the entire nuclear lifecycle is taken into account, including uranium mining, enrichment and transport. Nuclear power is extremely expensive, there is not a nuclear power station in the world that has been built on time or to budget.  R12billion of tax payers’ money was spent on the PBMR with nothing to show for it.

3. BEHAVIOURAL CHANGE

Government should use economic levers to promote behavioural change, a mixture of incentives, legislation and public awareness campaigns will help to ensure that the citizens of SA start to reduce their carbon footprint. National awareness campaigns should be launched to reduce unnecessary energy use in government offices, in mines and factories and in ordinary homes.

4. EMISSIONS REDUCTIONS

South Africa’s emissions reductions MUST be measured against a fixed historical baseline as is standard internationally and not against a ‘business as usual scenario’. It is vital that South Africa aims to cut our emissions to levels that are required by science.

Global carbon emissions need to be cut by 60-80% and we need to make our contribution to this.

The Green Paper talks about emissions reductions from 2036, this is too far in advance.  To keep the global temperature increase in a range between 2.0 and 2.4˚C global emissions will need to peak by 2015 and then decline.

5. ENERGY EFFICIENCY

Energy efficiency is the cheapest, quickest and easiest way to reduce carbon emissions and mandatory targets need to be set for energy efficiency in each sector.

Large users should pay more for their electricity to incentivise reducing their energy use.

Building regulations are an excellent way to start reducing our emissions. All new buildings should be insulated, all lightbulbs must be energy efficient –   incandescent bulbs should be banned; high energy efficiency standards for large appliances must be set.

6. RENEWABLE ENERGY

The Green Paper must set concrete targets for renewable energy, we have some of the best renewable energy potential in the world and renewable energy creates more jobs than coal and nuclear. Householders should be encouraged to install renewable energy by being enabled to sell their excess electricity back to the grid.

All new buildings should be required by law to have a Solar Water Heater and Government should help subsidise these.  

7.  TRANSPORT

Good public transport alternatives should be looked into such as high-speed rail between cities and efficient public transport within cities. Cycle paths would also encourage people to commute by bicycle. Government must set tough emissions standards for cars, buses and trucks.

8. WATER

The following should be mandatory and be subsidised by Government: All new toilets should be water saving; all new taps and showerheads should be fitted with low-flow devices,  all new buildings should have grey water systems, all new buildings should have a rain water tank, all government buildings should be retrofitted to save water.

Large and industrial users of water must pay more to incentivise saving water.

Bottled water should be banned.  It takes 10 litres of water to create 1 litre of bottled water. In our water stressed country, where many people don’t have access to clean, safe drinking water it is ludicrous that bottled water is being sold to an elite few. For every 1000ℓ of tap water consumed, 1.78 kg CO2e is generated. For the same volume of bottled water, 320 kg CO2e is generated. Plastic water bottles are used once and then discarded, polluting our rivers and oceans and filling up our landfills.  

9. ENFORCEMENT

This paper must say who is responsible for ensuring these policies are enacted. It must also outline what the consequences for inaction would be. The entire Green Paper is worthless if there is no guarantee that the goals set out in the Green Paper are going to be achieved. With no dates, targets or responsibilities the Green Paper is meaningless.

The interministerial committee must have strong powers to hold those responsible for implementing the strategy to account.

10. FINANCING

Government must redirect funds to low carbon alternatives. Government plans to spend R60billion on building Kulise, another polluting coal power station. This money should be rather spent on providing 4 million free domestic SWHs. this would create more jobs, and would avoid 240 million tons of CO2 over 20 years as well as reducing other coal based pollution and strains on our water supply. It would also produce the energy equivalent to more than one of Eskom’s proposed new power stations for half of the price.

It will cost less to act now than to do nothing, I urge Government to start early action on climate change.

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