Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Climate change receives upper hand during hearings

By Ofentse Mokae
18 November 2009

Amid national debate on the political, economic, legal, gender and social impacts of climate change, parliament’s joint committees conducted public hearings on the matter.

The joint committees which included the portfolio committee on water and environmental affairs as well as energy amongst others, heard a number of submissions from environmental and agricultural based organisations and individuals.

The hearings which started yesterday were also aimed at positioning South Africa’s stance with regards to issues around climate change ahead of the Copenhagen Conference on climate change.

The conference will shape the outline of the successor to the Kyoto Protocol in December this year.

During the hearings, Agri SA, a federal organisation, which promotes the sustainable profitability and stability of commercial agricultural production, said increament in resilience by the sector is needed for improvement in productivity.

“The best way for agriculture to adapt to the adverse impacts of climate change is to increase its resilience through improvements in agricultural productivity in a sustainable way,” the organisation said.

It says farmers have the capacity to provide solutions to both adapt to, and mitigate climate change through sustainable agricultural practices that decrease green house emissions from agriculture.

The Applied Center for Climate and Earth Systems Science (ACCESS) says South Africa plays an important role internationally in understanding global warming and planning a response to the daunting scientific and social challenges that it presents.

“South Africa can enhance its stature and benefit its people by taking advantage of the opportunities that our location and history provides to be a leader in this field,” ACCESS said.

It further said climate change poses profound ethical and policy challenges.

“Climate change requires balancing the needs of the historically disadvantaged with the avoidance of creating generations of future disadvantaged,” concluded the center.

Chairperson of the water and environmental affairs committee Makgotso Sotyu concluded the hearings which ended today, and said they will consider all the submissions presented during the hearings as they prepare for the Copenhagen conference.


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