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Parliament Briefed on Climate Change Bill

May 23, 2022

Parliament

The forestry, fisheries and the environment department recently briefed parliament on the Climate Change Bill.

The bill was tabled in parliament in February 2022.

The department published the bill’s explanatory summary in Government Gazette 45299 in October 2021.

According to the explanatory summary, the proposed legislation seeks to enable the “development of an effective climate change response and a long term, just transition to a climate resilient and low carbon economy and society for South Africa in the context of sustainable development”.

A draft bill was published for comment in February 2019.

In May 2021, the forestry, fisheries and the environment minister, Barbara Creecy, during the department’s 2021/22 budget vote speech in parliament, announced that the bill had been certified by the state law advisor and was on its way through the cabinet system in preparation for tabling in parliament.

Cabinet approved the bill in September 2021 for tabling in parliament.

In a statement, cabinet indicated that the bill aims to provide a legal instrument towards the implementation of the National Climate Change Response Policy.

Cabinet added that the bill also “allows for the alignment of policies that will influence the country’s climate change response”.

In a statement in September 2021, the department emphasised that the bill “provides for the effective management of inevitable climate change impacts by enhancing adaptive capacity, strengthening resilience and reducing vulnerability to climate change, with a view to building social, economic, and environmental resilience and an adequate national adaptation response in the context of the global climate change response”.

The bill aims to:

• enable the development of an effective climate change response and a long-term, just transition to a low-carbon and climate-resilient economy and society for South Africa in the context of sustainable development; and
• provide for matters connected therewith.

According to the bill’s memorandum, the proposed legislation is designed to “craft and implement an effective national climate change response, including mitigation and adaptation actions, that represents the Republic’s fair contribution to the global climate change response”.

The portfolio committee on environment, forestry and fisheries called for comment on the bill in April until 27 May 2022.

In the briefing, the department declared that the proposals set out in the bill “serve as a critical defence against climate change impacts, by reducing the vulnerability of South Africa’s food, water, health, ecosystems and human settlements to the impacts of a changing climate and in turn fostering social cohesion”.