Tomorrow is Local Government Elections, a day when everyone in SA has the chance to exercise their democratic right to have a say in the future of our country. While many are sceptical about what difference one vote can make, I firmly believe that we all have the power to make a difference. Democracy, as with climate change, requires collective action and responsibility. If we all work together we can make change and turn our country, and our planet, into a better place for all.
I wanted to know which of SA’s political parties had the best environmental policies, so I did some investigation. While all the major parties’ Election Manifestos concentrated on poverty alleviation, job creation and service delivery, they were all disappointingly silent on environmental and climate change issues. Of course, issues of poverty and job creation are of paramount importance, but politicians are failing to see the very strong links between the protection of our environment and the well being of our people.
Water and air pollution impact the health of all communities and it is the world’s poorest that are going to be the most affected by the effects of climate change; water scarcity, sea level rise, drought, food shortages, floods etc. A more holistic approach to poverty reduction and development is needed, one that would take into account a transition to a low carbon economy for SA which would not only reduce our country’s carbon footprint but also create jobs and sustainable livelihoods.
And so when you place your cross on the ballot paper tomorrow to shape the future of our country, why not also make a change in your own life to help shape the future of our planet.
The ANC was quite thin on environmental and climate change issues. They were however, the only party that addressed food security issues, promoting community and local food gardens. The ANC also made mention of the Green Economy and they plan to create jobs by installing solar-water heaters in low cost homes. But they didn’t give any figures or targets.
The DA was the strongest on environmental issues and also gave the most detail on their plans. They were particularly strong on water saving and energy efficiency. The DA supports individuals being able to sell excess power they have generated through wind or solar into the grid – something that Project 90 is calling for.
The IFP didn’t have anything in their manifesto, but on their website they state that they want to see an immediate shift away from fossil fuels to renewable energy and support a national environmental protection strategy.
The UDM had the least information in their Manifesto, only mentioning the integration of proper environmental practice in the daily operation of the party and in their planning and project management. They also would promote woman and youth in job creating environmental projects.
The ACDP had some great ideas in their Manifesto, including holding businesses accountable for pollution, especially acid mine drainage. This party had a fair amount of detail on environmental issues and were very strong on water saving issues. They also supported programmes to allow people to generate their own energy, which they envision would also provide opportunities for income generation.
COPE’s manifesto focused on investing in renewable energy and promoting independent power producers, which is people being able to sell their renewable energy back into the grid, and they estimate this will create 500,000 permanent jobs and many temporary jobs too. They will also subsidise rain water tanks and deal with acid mine drainage.
The Socialist Green Coalition, running in eThekwini, commits themselves unequivocally to continue to champion the interests of the poor and the environment and has pro-environment objectives. They promise one million jobs with 100% renewable energy, zero waste recycling & organic farming. They call for stopping pollution and climate chaos and no nuclear power. They will supply households with the means for renewable electricity production, and pay them to supply the grid.
For more detail on how all our parties fared, visit our website here.