Closing Media Statement: National Climate Change Response Dialogue

17 November 2014


‘Less silos, less bureaucracy for climate change implementation; Call for active citizenry’ – National Climate Change Response Dialogue

The National Climate Change Response Dialogue closed its four-day programme which attracted 850 delegates from government, business, industry, the NGO sector, civil society and the media, with the aim of tracking South Africa's transition to a low carbon economy and how South Africa can build  resilience to climate change. 

The Dialogue saw robust discussions between business, civil and labour as well as government on the country’s responses to climate change with requests made to government departments to break silos and cut bureaucracy for real and fast-tracked implementation of climate change programmes to happen.

Similarly, South Africans were challenged to become active citizens and get involved in reducing greenhouse gas emissions,   and developing responses that increase resilience to the impacts of climate change, now and in the future.

Minister of Environmental Affairs, Edna Molewa, referred to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which confirmed that “despite a growing number of climate change mitigation policies world-wide, global annual greenhouse gas emissions continue to grow rapidly”.

Total global emissions were the highest in human history from 2000 to 2010, the IPCC 5th Assessment Report found.

The Minister called for ‘bold’, ‘practical’ steps to deal with climate change and outlined some of the goals laid out in Vision 2030 set out in the National Development Plan.

“By 2030, South Africa hopes to have sliced our energy demand in half through technological innovation, good behavioural practice and sheer public commitment to more efficient, sustainable and equitable energy use.”

“By 2030 we hope to have made rapid progress towards a carbon-neutral electricity sector and a low-carbon public transport system that makes everyday use of private vehicles an unnecessary extravagance.”

The Minister continued that by 2030, houses, offices and commercial building will no longer be energy drains, but energy sources- supplying electricity to communities through smart meters and smart grids.

The Minister reported the following achievements since COP17 in Durban:

  1. The National Climate Change Response Policy charts the course for actions that are both developmental and transformational
  2. A set of Long-Term Adaptation Scenarios (LTAS) have been  developed to understand future climate conditions and development pathways that facilitate South Africa’s adaptation to changing climate  conditions
  3. Extensive work has been done with business and industry to analyse the emission reduction potential in key economic sectors, and to understand the social and economic opportunities and impacts of reducing emissions. This work will lead to the establishment of desired emission reduction outcomes per sector and carbon budgets for some companies
  4. The National Green Economy Strategy provides the strategic directive to grow economic activity in the green industry sector, so as to attract investment, create jobs and improve competitiveness.

The Dialogue confirmed that:

  1. Climate change is happening now – it is not a future phenomenon, it must be addressed now.
  2. The science is increasing in precision. The Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) confirms that warming of the climate is caused by human activity, and that impacts are already being felt worldwide through extreme events, such as floods, and through slow onset events such as drought and shifting rain patterns.
  3. These impacts have the potential of affecting the social and economic viability of countries, particularly in Africa, and compromising hard earned socio economic gains.
  4. The poor and vulnerable are the hardest hit. The impacts of climate change exacerbate existing vulnerabilities such as poverty, joblessness, insecure access to food, water, energy and health facilities.
  5. The global negotiations under the COP17 Durban Platform agreement, must conclude at COP 21 in Paris, in December 2015, with a fair, ambitious and legally binding global climate change agreement that balances climate and development imperatives and ensures the fair participation of all countries.
  6. In South Africa, the policy framework is in place to guide South Africa’s transition to a lower carbon and climate resilient economy and society. The National Development Plan, and the National Climate Change Response Policy give direction on “what” must be done; the conversation now is about “how” to do it, and how to scale up implementation
  7. Multiple actors are involved; multiple projects and programmes are underway; this work needs to be consolidated into a coherent national response, and implementation must be scaled up. 
  8. South Africa is up to the task!
  9. The National Climate Change Response Dialogue 2014 provided a deeper understanding of the broad scope of work that is underway, the actors involved and the hard choices that need to be made going forward.
  10. Radical, transformative and co-ordinated action is needed with leadership from all spheres of government; an active citizenry; and partnerships to make it happen.
  11. The Dialogue and action must be expanded, and South Africans must Think Globally and Act Locally.
  12. Outcomes from other working sessions looked at possible transition scenarios and identified the need for an agreed framework to guide South Africa’s transition. The importance of early warning and risk assessment systems were emphasised for the agricultural sector.  Water demand management emerged as one of the bigger focus areas. Energy choices and energy scenarios were hotly debated in the context of South Africa’s commitment to make a fair contribution to the global effort to stabilize global greenhouse gas concentrations.

Finally, the dialogue identified the need for community centric approaches,  and emphasised that climate change issues requires clear and simple communication with those most affected.

To access the 2014 National Climate Change Response Dialogue presentations, click on the link below:

>> 2014 National Climate Change Response Dialogue.

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Albi Modise
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