A Climate Change Bill is on the cards for South Africa
Speaking at a press briefing before introducing her department’s budget to the National Assembly on Wednesday, Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa said in addition to finalising the National Climate Change Adaptation Strategy, the department had developed a draft Climate Change Bill.
She said the draft bill was before a committee of Cabinet and would later be referred to Cabinet for approval before it goes through the parliamentary process.
Director-general of the department Nosipho Ngcaba said the bill would contain provisions for mitigation measures and adaptation measures, as well as economic instruments such as carbon budgets.
Molewa added that the bill would also set up institutional cooperation between the many departments dealing with climate change, with the minister of environmental affairs setting the “national trajectory”. Provinces will also have to put in place implementation plans.
“South Africa continues to play an active role on the international stage through participation in a number of key multilateral environmental agreements and their associated negotiations,”
In her speech during the budget vote debate, Molewa said: “All of our actions have become all the more imperative within the context of an ever-changing climate.
“The increasing frequency and intensity of extreme weather events around South Africa – from flash flooding in some parts of the country to devastating drought in other parts – tells us that climate change has long become a measurable reality.”
Greenhouse gas emission reduction system
She said that South Africa was a signatory to the Paris Agreement to Combat Climate Change was an acknowledgement that this was a problem requiring a global effort.
“South Africa continues to play an active role on the international stage through participation in a number of key multilateral environmental agreements and their associated negotiations,” she said.
“In addition to finalising our National Climate Change Adaptation Strategy, we have developed a draft Climate Change Bill to provide effective national response for both mitigation and adaptation action.”
She said the department was also currently implanting the first phase of its greenhouse gas emission reduction system, with carbon budgets already allocated to most of the significant emitters.
She said officials were working towards implementing the second phase and are confident that once implemented it will support the country’s transition to a low-carbon economy and society.
Molewa said another effort to combat climate change is the South African Weather Service’s recently adopted approach of building “a WeatherSMART nation”.
“This aims to enhance our early warning system ensure that climate and weather data, products and applications are available to all South Africans,” she said.