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South Africa's current response to climate change leaves much to desire. We need to act on this to push for a stronger more effective South African response to climate change, for although their promises within the Copenhagen Accord were somewhat laudable given the context, South Africa needs to put in place the structures to enable them to achieve those promises and more. Given our pivotal role as hosts and chair of COP 17 at the end of this year, as well as our leading role in Africa and the developing world, and our status as one of the highest emitters of carbon, it is crucial that South Africa takes a stronger stand on climate change. We cannot afford to drop the ball on this as its effects on global negotiations could be calamitous.

Whats Wrong?

Firstly, the air quality act does not include carbon dioxide and a few other greenhouse gases as pollutants, and thus the global warming effects caused by such gasses are not counted as polluting.

Secondly, the carbon tax proposed is not earmarked to specifically tackle issues of climate change... ? While it makes sense for the polluter to pay, the polluter's payment should surely be towards fixing the problems his pollution causes i.e. climate change. Therefore the funds garnered through the carbon tax should be earmarked specifically for a climate fund, which deals both with issues of climate change mitigation and adaptation, and in doing enables South Africa's transition towards a lower carbon (and GHG) economy, and bolsters the resilience of South African communities vulnerable to the effects of climate change.

Thirdly, as the carbon tax is not mandatory we feel that it becomes a rather weak measure to deal with climate change.

What Can We Do?

Combining the above concerns, we feel that South Africa needs to propose stronger measures to deal with climate change, and should thus:
a) include greenhouse gasses as pollutants under the air quality act
b) earmark funds garnered from the carbon tax for a climate fund, that deals both with issues of climate change mitigation and adaptation.
c) work towards making carbon tax mandatory, even if only within the commercial sphere.

If South Africa fails to take climate change seriously now, they could jeopardise global climate change negotiations, and potentially spiral the global response to climate change into disarray.


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Corey MezaBy:
SustainabilityIn:
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Government of South Africa

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