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WWF welcomes the government’s recognition that even in times of a Covid-19 crisis, we cannot ignore the climate crisis
In his newsletter this week, President Cyril Ramaphosa gave an unequivocal message to all the citizens of South Africa – that we need to build a new, inclusive and resilient economy that “must be able to withstand the effects of climate change”. He also announced that the Cabinet has now approved the National Climate Change Adaptation Strategy.
In his words, “the coronavirus pandemic is devastating, but unless we act now, the impact of climate change on humanity will be catastrophic”.
WWF wholeheartedly agrees with the President’s assertion that we need a “new” economy that is able to withstand the effects of climate change in order “to protect jobs, ensure sustainability, preserve our natural resources and ensure food security”.
WWF also commits to respond to the President’s call to action on an urgent basis by contributing towards significantly reducing carbon emissions and building a climate-resilient economy.
In addition to the National Climate Change Adaptation Strategy, there are some very important measures in the pipeline, among them the Climate Change Bill (currently under consideration in NEDLAC) and the establishment of a Presidential Climate Change Commission to coordinate an ambitious and effective national response and the enhancement of South Africa’s Nationally Determined Contributions to the Paris Agreement.
We would urge that these and other measures be expedited speedily, so that in midst of the crisis we forge a climate-resilient and carbon-neutral South Africa.
The South African economy cannot afford to recover from the Covid-19 crisis just to be catapulted into an even greater climate crisis. Even as we battle the Covid-19 pandemic, the focus and attention given to climate should be unrelenting. WWF commits itself to fully supporting the President in building this new, inclusive and resilient South Africa.
Prabhat Upadhyaya, Senior Policy Analyst, WWF-SA, comments: “President’s message is prescient in these uncertain times. It reminds us that even as we all continue to battle Covid-19 day in and day out, the climate crisis is not going to slow down. It also very succinctly communicates that climate change is not just about changing weather patterns but that it impacts everything on which our survival hinges. And that while it impacts all of us, unfortunately, it has something common with Covid-19 – its impact would be most felt by the most vulnerable in our society.
“To realise this new resilient and inclusive South Africa, we need to work towards simultaneously realising three goals. Firstly, we need to revive the South African economy without going back to the way things were. Secondly, we need to implement mitigation measures to innovatively reduce our carbon emissions and promote renewable energy substantially to make South Africa climate neutral. Finally, we need to promote adaptation measures that make our infrastructure, our cities and our country climate resilient. These are challenging times, but in midst of this crisis, we have a choice and responsibility to forge a new, inclusive and resilient South Africa.”
Louise Naudé, Low-carbon Frameworks Programme Manager, WWF-SA, said: “Creating a carbon-neutral and climate-resilient economy presents the greatest opportunities for growth off a low base. Among the companies and cities that are standing up for an economy with climate-neutral greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 can be found among the growing Alliance for Climate Action SA. Convened by NBI, C40 Cities and WWF, this Alliance allows for companies and cities to collaborate on initiatives to drive emissions down and build resilience in the face of the impacts of climate change. The biophysical impacts find footfall in local municipalities, so adaptation in cities is central.”