President shows support for green economy transition at Green Economy Summit
President Zuma also announced that a National Green Economy Plan will emerge out of the Summit.
Minister Sonjica’s address focused on the importance of South Africa’s natural capital and ecosystem services, particularly water catchments, biodiversity and the need for “elaborating the economic case for a healthy environment”. Supporting this statement President Zuma said, “We have no choice but to develop a green economy.”
Having noted South Africa’s efforts and commitment to secure an international agreement to address climate change, in Copenhagen at the end of last year, the President said, “Our commitment must be borne out by what we do at home. We have the means and responsibility.”
President Zuma went on to elaborate the need for investment and skills development “for Africa to make use of its abundant renewable energy resources.”
The 3-day Green Economy Summit programme sets out to discuss moving South Africa: “Towards a Resource Efficient, Low Carbon and Pro-Employment Growth Path”. It follows a Round Table on Monday afternoon seeking input to the National Climate Change Response Policy process, which is due to produce a Green Paper by the end of June and legislation ahead of South Africa hosting the UN Climate Summit in December 2011.
“In light of our on-going advocacy of a carbon budget approach, including proposing a specific range for a national carbon budget from now to 2050, we are heartened that Minister Sonjica picked up on the need to plan for sustainable development ‘within available carbon space’” said WWF Climate Change Programme Manager, Richard Worthington.
“It has been good to hear the Minister acknowledging the leadership on climate change required of her Ministry, while emphasising the need for all relevant departments to integrate green economics into their strategies.”
Earlier in the day, Minister of Science and Technology Naledi Pandor declared: “Our Green Economy strategy must include ambitious targets for renewable energy to contribute to electricity supply.”
Having noted that employment in renewable energy industries in Germany grew from 160 000 in 2004 to 250 000 workers in 2007, Minister Pandor proposed that South Africa endeavour to join the group of only ten countries that the World Energy Council considers to have adequate energy policy.
Tasneem Essop, WWF International Climate Policy Advocate, commented, “This is an historic event that should serve as a turning point for the country’s growth and development pathway, towards a people-centred and inclusive model, one that will also ensure competitive positioning within clean technology and green growth opportunities, as well as maximising the creation of decent jobs.”