Modern, Growing, Successful Province

Provincial Climate Change and Green Jobs Summit

Programme Director – MEC Shushu
Mayor of Khara Hais Local Municipality: Mr Van Staden
Mayor of Siyanda District Municipality: Mrs Mjila
MEC Sylvia Lucas
Distinguished Guests
Private Sector
Members of the Media Representatives
Ladies and Gentlemen

I welcome you to the opening of this historic Climate Change Summit that must ensure that we collectively respond in a deliberate and decisive manner to the enormous challenges facing our climate and by extension, the future of our planet.

Your presence here patently illustrates the seriousness that you have attached to the success of this summit.

Ladies and Gentlemen, this summit will undoubtedly ensure that issues of climate change remain high on the priority-list of government, private enterprise and civil society as a whole.

Furthermore, it is crucial to our development and the aspirations of our people and country to create a society where all our citizens are aware of the dangers we face, and live in a responsible manner that will sustain and enhance our livelihoods.

It must be remembered that the action needed to be taken to combat or address the impacts of climate change is not only the responsibility of government, business / industry or academic institutions, but is the responsibility of all people who inhabit this global village.

The actions we take now will determine the quality of life the future generations will experience. It is thus important to remember that natural resources like water and trees must be sustainably utilized so that that there will be sufficient for future generations.

You may not all be aware that South Africa is to host the Conference of Parties (COP 17) in November 2011 which will be a global conference coordinated by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

This Conference will see all countries converging to discuss specific aspects related to climate change with the aim of formulating a global agreement on what different countries must do to stop or limit the impacts of climate change globally, for example, setting standards for the amount of pollution entering our ambient air.

Ladies and Gentlemen, we are also expected as a country to participate meaningfully at COP 17 so that we influence the direction the decisions arrived at and stem the tide of the adverse effects on world climate.

Programme Director, scientific studies currently indicate that the interior of South Africa is to warm by 3-4?C by 2050 and 6-7?C by 2100 and the coastal areas will warm by 1-2?C by 2050 and 3-4?C by 2100. This implies that the Northern Cape will be the province severest affected by climate change in the country. It also means that the western side of the province is going to become drier, thus placing additional pressure on the already stressed natural resources in that region. So if we do not start to change the way we do things, we may experience movement of people (climate refugees) from one area to another, thereby putting other natural resources under pressure in the area where people have relocated to.

Ladies and Gentlemen, what is this phenomenon we call “Climate change”? This question will assist us to ably position us to respond to this serious challenge which is threatening human existence.

According to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, climate change is "a change of climate which is attributed directly or indirectly to human activity that alters the composition of the global atmosphere, which is in addition to natural climate variability observed over comparable time periods."

What causes Climate change?

Natural Causes:
• Continental drift
• Volcanoes
• Earth’s tilt
• Ocean currents

Human causes:
The following pollutants emitted to the atmosphere, called green house gases, are the major contributors for bringing about climate change. These gases are as a result of manmade activities, for example the use of motor vehicles and the work carried out by industries. The gases are:

• Methane
• Water vapour
• Carbon dioxide
• CFC’s
• Nitrous oxide

Programme Director, bearing this in mind, Government regards climate change as one of the greatest threats to sustainable development. Government also believes that climate change, if un-mitigated, also has the potential to undo or undermine many of the positive advances made in meeting South Africa’s own development goals and the Millennium Development Goals.
Government also acknowledges that the stabilization of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that prevents dangerous man made interference with the climate system will require efficient international implementation of an effective and binding global agreement on, among others, greenhouse gas emission reductions.

This, together with all the other countries responsible for significant greenhouse gas emissions, and considering its developing country status, South Africa, as a responsible global citizen, is committed to reducing its own greenhouse gas emissions in order to successfully facilitate the agreement and implementation of an effective and binding global agreement on, among others, greenhouse gas emission reductions.

Programme Director that, notwithstanding the impact of any global agreement, South Africa will have to adapt to the unavoidable impacts of climate change through the management of risk and the reduction of vulnerability.
Although there will be costs associated with South Africa’s greenhouse gas emission reduction efforts, there will also be significant short and long-term social and economic benefits, including improved international competitiveness that will result from a transition to a low carbon economy. Furthermore, these costs will be far less than the costs of delay and inaction.

Ladies and Gentlemen, it is also worth noting that the energy sector is the largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, generating over 80% of South Africa’s emissions. In 2009, the International Energy Agency listed South Africa as the thirteenth highest generator of carbon dioxide in the world.

The key adaptation sectors that have been identified must develop appropriate strategies on how they are going to address the impacts of climate change with special reference to mitigation and adaptation measures. The key sectors are water, agriculture, human health, energy and industry (commerce and manufacturing, mining and mineral resources).
Programme Director, the Northern Cape has been identified as one of the provinces best suited and strategically poised for a number of solar and wind renewable energy projects. These projects will be responsible for creating a number of green jobs in the province and will also be contributing to the clean energy that will be put on to the electricity grid. These projects will also contribute in reducing South Africa’s green house gas emissions at a national level.

Let me conclude with the following words of Minister Molewa, who recently remarked that “South Africa as a country in Africa, which is characterized by extreme poverty and underdevelopment, with high carbon emissions in comparison to other developing countries. The people in villages, our women, other vulnerable groups in rural and peri-urban areas contribute the least to climate change but depend on the healthy state of the environment for their survival”.
Their experiences, suggestions and knowledge of local conditions must find expression in this Summit. The youth of this country are the future beneficiaries of whatever state we would leave this planet in.

I am confident that the deliberations that you will arrive at will positively influence the kind of world we live and breathe in.

I thank you

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