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DEFF Shines Light on Climate Change

February 21, 2020

Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries

The environment, forestry and fisheries department will not shrink from its responsibility to undertake actions to mitigate and adapt to climate change.

The environment, forestry and fisheries minister, Barbara Creecy, highlighted this during the 2020 State of the Nation Address debate in parliament.

“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.

In a statement, climate change was described as posing significant risks to South Africa’s current and future socio-economic development.

In addressing the challenges, the minister stressed that government needs to keep both opportunities and difficulties in mind.

“The opportunities include unlocking new sectors for growth and job creation. The difficulties include ensuring that the transition is responsible, phased and planned. Working with all stakeholders will be the only way we ensure no one is left behind.”

The minister declared that the Draft Climate Change Bill will be tabled in parliament in 2020.

The proposed legislation was published for comment in February 2019.

The draft bill seeks to:

• build the Republic’s effective climate change response and the long term, just transition to a climate resilient and lower carbon economy and society in the context of an environmentally sustainable development framework; and
• provide for matters connected therewith.

The minister also confirmed that the Draft National Climate Change Adaptation Strategy (NCCAS) will be finalised.

According to its introduction, the Draft NCCAS “provides a common vision of climate change adaptation and climate resilience for the country, and outlines priority areas for achieving this vision”.

It also provides a common reference point for climate change adaptation efforts in South Africa, sets down a policy instrument within which adaptation efforts can be spelled out, assists development initiatives to reflect climate change resilience and promotes coherence and coordination on climate change adaptation activities between different institutions and levels of government.

The NCCAS is a ten-year plan that will be reviewed every five years.

Meanwhile, the department has briefed parliament on the state of the South African environment and current, emerging or foreseen priorities for intervention.

Issues under the microscope include climate change, biodiversity, air quality, oceans and coasts, waste, land degradation and biological invasions.

In terms of oceans, coasts and fisheries, the department highlighted the finalization of the Oceans Economy Master Plan, finalisation and implementation of the Antarctic and Southern Oceans Strategy and implementation of the 2021 Fishing Rights Allocation Process.

As regards waste, the department mentioned the drawing up of the chemical industry waste master plan in consultation with the chemical industry association, co-creation of the Waste Economy Master Plan and chemical industry compliance audits.