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$80m to help preserve SA flora and fauna

South Africa’s environmental affairs department has accessed US $80 million from international sources to assist in preserving flora and fauna amidst the impact of

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climate change, Minister Edna Molewa said on Thursday.

“US 30.6 million of this total has already been approved and a further US$49,8m already endorsed. These internationally-supported initiatives will promote organic waste-to-energy and other low-carbon technologies in small and medium-scale enterprises,” Molewa told reporters in Cape Town.

She was addressing journalists at Parliament before presenting her department’s budget vote in the National Assembly.

Molewa said South Africa was gradually moving towards the use of greener energy, with a target set for 2030.

“By 2030, South Africa will have an efficient, lower-carbon public transport system that makes everyday use of private vehicles an unnecessary extravagance. By 2030 our houses, offices and commercial building will no longer be energy drains, but rather energy sources – supplying electricity to communities through smart meters and smart grids,” she said.

She said through the climate change response policy and the green economy strategy, Africa’s industrial and economic powerhouse would continue to work diligently to meet targets on emissions reduction and air quality standards with the ultimate aim of transitioning to a low-carbon, climate resilient economy and society.

Molewa said in a bid to boost the buoyant tourism sector, her department had an initiative to improve service delivery and base infrastructure in the country’s national parks.

“We are also repairing flood damaged bulk infrastructure. An amount of R950 million has been allocated to SANParks for infrastructural development, while another R42 million has been allocated for road improvements for the period of 2015/16 to 2017/18. An additional R12 million has been allocated to repair of SANParks’ flood damaged infrastructure for 2015/16,” she said.

“These initiatives create sustainable employment for many communities adjacent to national parks in remote and rural areas; they also contribute to driving rural and regional sustainable development.”

Source: IOL


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Molewa’s emission reprieve criticised

Two environmental groups on Wednesday condemned Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa’s decision to grant several companies, including Eskom, a reprieve from complying with minimum emission standards.

“The decision taken yesterday… is a clear disregard for the people of the already heavily polluted areas of the Highveld and Vaal,” the Highveld Environmental Justice Network’s Nomcebo Makhubelo said in a joint statement with the Vaal Environmental Justice Alliance.

“We have been opposed to these applications because they meant that industries, in particular Eskom, are ultimately seeking permission to continue destroying the health and lives of ordinary people in the Highveld.”

Eskom and other companies applied for temporary exemption from meeting deadlines to cut emissions, in terms of the National Environmental Management Air Quality Act.

“We received 37 applications from a range of facilities, namely Eskom, Sasol, Anglo American Platinum, PPC, and a number of refiners,” Molewa said on Tuesday.

“Of these we have processed 35 applications and are still awaiting additional documentation from two applicants.”

In terms of the new law, companies could apply for postponements for their plants to meet current air quality standards by April 1, 2015, and stricter standards for “new plants” by April 1, 2020.

Eskom applied for postponements for 16 of its power plants to meet standards in terms of three pollutants — particulate matter, sulphur dioxide, and oxides of nitrogen.

Makhubelo said the Highveld and Vaal were air quality priority areas and that specific interventions were supposed to bring the ambient air quality in line with air quality standards.

“The postponements are a direct contradiction of this goal,” she said.

“Lethabo power station is one of the biggest polluters in the Vaal Triangle… Not only has Eskom been granted postponements, but so has the largest emitter of carbon dioxide in the country, Sasol. The people of the Vaal will continue to suffer from dirty air,” Makhubelo said.

Source: Engineering News


 

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South Africa Adopts National Green Economy Strategy

South Africa has, in many ways, demonstrated continental leadership in mitigating the effects of climate change. From policy introductions to alternative energy, the southernmost country in Africa has achieved a significant level of success in combating the phenomenon that may affect developing regions the most; sustainable energy.

The country’s Environmental Affairs Minister, Edna Molewa, listed a few of these initiatives. Renewable Energy Independent Power Purchase Programme (REIPPP), the most popular, is aimed at supplementing the country’s energy supply with renewable energy.

“Today there is rapid uptake of large-scale renewable energy technologies through the Renewable Energy Independent Power Purchase Programme (REIPPP). So far under the REIPPP programme, 3,933 MW have already been procured,” she said.

There is also the National Green Fund through which South Africa is “greening” its cities. This can be seen in a number of actions including reducing energy loads in buildings, creating a recycling economy and restoring wetlands to protect water resources, according to the minister.

“Extensive work has been done, jointly with business and industry, to analyze the emission reduction potential in key economic sectors, and to understand the social and economic opportunities and impacts of reducing emissions,” she added.

The center-piece of all these is the National Green Economy Strategy, a strategic directive to grow economic activity in the green industry sector thereby attracting investments, creating jobs and improving competitiveness. The strategy also includes plans to move existing economic sectors towards cleaner, low-carbon industries in order to protect the environment without compromising economic benefits.

Introducing the strategy, Minister Molewa said; “South Africa’s approach is one of promoting sustainable development by prioritizing climate change responses that have significant mitigation benefits and have significant economic growth, job creation and poverty alleviation benefits.”

According to a report by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), no continent will be struck as severely by the impacts of climate change as Africa. “Given its geographical position, the continent will be particularly vulnerable due to the considerably limited adaptive capacity, exacerbated by widespread poverty and the existing low levels of development,” the report reads.

In every developing region of the world, climate change is a threat to economic growth and long-term prosperity due to changes in natural systems and resources. Among other effects, the report estimates that, by 2020, between 75 and 250 million people in Africa will be exposed to increased water stress due to climate change.

In addition, yields from rain-fed agriculture could be reduced by 50 percent in some countries meaning food security could be severely compromised. The cost of adaptation to all these could cost as much as 5 percent to 10 percent of GDP.

Given these threats, more African states are encouraged to follow South Africa’s lead in building capacity against climate change.

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