The Democratic Alliance welcomes the appointment of members to the long-awaited Climate Change Coordinating Commission. These appointments have been pending for over two years since the commission was first announced in October 2018. The commission must now begin working with utmost urgency to address the numerous challenges associated with climate change. This will require steps to mitigate against the impacts of climate change and adapt to the rapidly changing terrain.
The DA believes that there is enormous potential for job creation and growth presented by a shift towards new technologies and renewable energy. We cannot allow efforts to diversify the energy market to be held back by outdated misconceptions around jobs and renewable energy. If we do not begin to diversify energy production we will be left behind, encumbered by outdated infrastructure that is unable to cope with the growing demands of the country.
Eskom remains Africa’s largest single polluter and is responsible for 40% of South Africa’s carbon emissions. It is therefore worth noting the inclusion of an Eskom representative on the commission. Eskom must work with all stakeholders to drastically reduce its own carbon emissions through effective retrofitting of existing infrastructure and other measures. Coal power will remain an important part of South Africa’s energy mix going forward and proactive mitigation measures are essential to ensure that the environment is protected.
The social impact of future climate change events will continue to be felt in the years to come. The numerous drought crises that have faced South Africa over the past few years have shown how the slightest shift in climatic conditions can have a devastating impact on all aspects of society. While many areas across the country continue to struggle with severe drought events, cities like Cape Town have used the drought crisis to improve the city’s adaptability to climate shocks and put measures in place to help make the city more climate resilient. It would be worthwhile for the commission to look into the internationally acclaimed responses to the drought crisis by the DA-led City of Cape Town and the Western Cape Government as an example of how all spheres of government are able to work together to address the impacts of climate change.
The commission has been tasked with providing a “just transition” and it is vital that the President ensures that all voices are heard during this process, especially those who have been critical of the slow government response thus far.