South Africa, as a responsible global citizen, will not shrink from its responsibility to address the important tasks that lie ahead to mitigate and adapt to climate change.
“We have a common moral responsibility to future generations to honour our mutual commitments, and our differentiated responsibilities to fight the causes and consequences of climate change,” Minister of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries Barbara Creecy said on Tuesday.
She was speaking during the State of the Nation Address (SONA) debate in the National Assembly on Tuesday.
The Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries (DEFF) will this year assist municipalities to implement their climate change response strategies, while the South African Weather Service will ramp up efforts to educate local communities so they can better understand climate change and respond appropriately.
Through the department’s environmental programmes, R1.9 billion is to be spent in 2020 to restore wetlands, estuaries and coastal dunes to better protect built infrastructure and human settlements from storms, floods and sea level rise.
South Africa will continue to lobby developed countries to provide for an adequate, reliable and predictable source of international funding for both mitigation and adaptation.
“We must all be clear that climate change and its associated consequences can only be addressed by the world’s nations working together,” Creecy said.
She expressed concern about the withdrawal of the United States – one of the world’s biggest emitters – from the Paris Accord.
“It is essential that the nations of the world stand together in support of the Paris Agreement. We have a common moral responsibility to future generations to honour our mutual commitments and our differentiated responsibilities to fight the causes and consequences of climate change,” she said.
Creecy welcomed the commitments made by President Cyril Ramaphosa’s during the SONA, to make a decisive shift in the country’s energy trajectory at a time when humankind faces the greatest threat to its sustainable future.
The President also promised that the Presidential Climate Change Commission will lead South Africa’s just transition to a low carbon, climate resilient and sustainable society, which will leave no one behind.
“To address these issues, the Climate Change Bill, which provides for effective management approaches to the impact of climate change will be tabled in the National Assembly this year, while the National Adaptation Strategy is to be finalised.
“This strategy will galvanise investment in preparedness, early warning capabilities and risk mitigation measures for society,” DEFF said.