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WWF South Africa has welcomed the release of the National Climate Change Response White Paper ahead of the Seventeenth Conference of the Parties (COP17) to be held in Durban next month.
The White Paper, to which WWF-SA has submitted a formal response to the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee, should strengthen the South African government’s integrity in the climate change negotiations. When implemented, it will go a long way towards meeting South Africa’s obligations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
It is a cause for celebration that the White Paper advocates for South Africa to move towards sector-based and ultimately mandatory emission reductions based on the concept of a carbon budget, for which WWF-SA has long advocated.
“Over the next two years, key actors are called upon to participate in developing what we would hope becomes a ‘carbon budget’ per sector, and to develop plans to curb emissions to come in within those budgets. We are working collaboratively with government, labour, business and experts on a sectoral approach to a carbon budget for South Africa; focusing initially on the transport sector,” says Louise Naudé, WWF-SA’s National Climate Change Officer.
The well-conceived flagship programmes identified in the White Paper should provide focus and acceleration to coordinated government efforts. It is a positive outcome that these flagship programmes will begin without waiting on the full articulation of the measures and architecture of a national climate change response enabled by the White Paper.
While WWF-SA welcomes moves to give greater clarity and long-term signals regarding the national greenhouse gas emissions trajectory that policy will be directed to achieve, the new trajectory range provided in the White Paper seeks to raise the level of a national emissions peak to a considerably higher level than is acceptable.
WWF-SA is encouraged by the White Paper and supports the notion of a shift towards sustainable consumption and production patterns, which decouples growth and development from negative environmental and societal impacts. Based on its own work in the sustainable development arena, the organisation’s experience is that placing biodiversity and ecosystem considerations at the heart of development decisions leads to the best outcomes for people and planet. It advocates that the country’s approach to climate resilient and low-carbon development takes an ecosystems-based point of departure.
“The environmental Parliamentary Portfolio Committee is to hold public hearings on the White Paper, and we have been invited to make a presentation on Tuesday, November 1st. We hope to present some best-practice examples of win-win environmental and developmental solutions, for consideration in taking the White Paper forward,” says Naudé.