LETTER: Carbon emissions - a global problem requiring a global solution
CARBON EMISSIONS: A GLOBAL PROBLEM REQUIRING A GLOBAL SOLUTION
Contribution by Bantu Holomisa, MP - Chairperson: Champions of the Environment Foundation at the SOUTH AFRICAN CONFERENCE ON CARBON EMISSIONS AND TAX at the Gordon Institute of Business Science on 26 February 2013
Dear Ladies and Gentlemen
On behalf of Champions of the Environment Foundation (cEF), I join Ms Claire Thwaites of the Gordon Institute of Business Science (Gibs) in welcoming you this morning. We look forward to engage you today.
We are grateful that Gibs came on board and made it possible for us to host this event using their support and facilities. We look forward to build on this successful partnership.
I also welcome the distinguished speakers, but in particular those delegated by the Department of Environmental Affairs and the Department of International Relations and Cooperation. The Director General from the Treasury apologised for not being able to attend; as you know Wednesday is a big day for them with the Budget Speech in Parliament. He however expressed his appreciation for this initiative to engage stakeholders and to create awareness around the issues we will be discussing.
WHY ARE WE MEETING TODAY?
When we talk about the proposed carbon tax and the economic response to carbon emissions, Champions of the Environment Foundation proposed that we should "find the right place" for South Africans to discuss these issues.
We thought it best to give interested parties an opportunity to review the progress made thus far on issues related to climate change in South Africa and in particular to look at the National Climate Change Response White Paper.
BACKGROUND ON cEF
Champions of the Environment Foundation is an autonomous, apolitical group formed to meet the urgent need for a coordinated campaign to heighten national awareness of environmental conservation issues and best practices benefiting the whole community and future generations.
The Mission of Champions of the Environment Foundation is to: "Act as a catalyst in promoting and communicating environmental achievements that enrich community life via positive management of all aspects of the environment and community."
Browsing our website (http://www.championsenvironmentfoundation.com/) you would notice that we have given expression to this mission by playing a coordinating role in a number of projects across the Country. In 2010 we started a project with the Department of Environmental Affairs, Carbonworx and the Hegebe Trust to establish an indigenous forest in the Eastern Cape. In 2011 we helped the Ngonyama Trust to have 34 000 indigenous trees planted, at the Enyokeni Great Place, in one day.
The purpose of these projects is to implement long-term strategies aimed at mitigating the negative effects of climate change and the reduction of carbon footprint. In addition, these projects will, inter alia, help restore eco-systems, create jobs, transfer skills and educate learners and members of the local communities about the effects of climate change.
CLIMATE CHANGE ECONOMICS IN SOUTH AFRICA
The challenges of climate change economics present new areas of concern to governments. South Africa is a developing economy, rich in natural resources where many of our people live in rural communities with limited resources in terms of education, health and food or personal security. It is important for environmentally-related fiscal instruments to be pro-poor where possible.
You will recall that South Africa recently hosted the Conference of Parties 17 (COP17) and we had made certain commitments at previous forums of this nature. I would expect that, during our discussions today, we will talk about how South Africa should honour those commitments and how we face issues related to climate change as a Nation.
Of particular interest is that we talk about finding ways to help South African businesses to understand the role that they have to play; we have to help them make use of the opportunities, such as international funding and access to technologies, but we must also point out the pitfalls.
We need to spread our feelers and talk to other nations that have already started the carbon tax debate. Countries like the United Kingdom and South Korea, amongst others, have already developed carbon tax models and we must learn from their experience.
As part of the matters to consider, Champions of the Environment Foundation proposes that South Africa should establish a National Climate Change Green Fund. Government funds that are generated through avenues, such as the taxing new car owners, should be channelled into such Fund. The Fund could be made responsible for launching sustainable green projects that would create much needed jobs and also to contribute towards our Nation's food security. The Fund could be used as a mechanism to help with the education of our people in understanding the need to take care of their environment.
Today's meeting is a good start in generating debate around the issues of climate change and carbon emissions. To Stella Helwick and her team, thank you for the hard work in arranging this conference.
Finally, we hope to take the feedback from today's discussions to the relevant State departments and the Parliamentary Portfolio Committees.
Mr Bantu Holomisa, MP