In question 1493 tabled in the National assembly for written reply, I pointedly asked the Minister of Energy “whether any carbon sinks were being created parallel with the building of the Kusile and Medupi coal-fired power stations to help offset their future carbon emissions in order that South Africa met its carbon emission commitments in terms of the Kyoto Protocol”.
The Minister unashamedly deflected the question from her department to Eskom and indicated that Eskom had not created any new carbon sinks. She simply ignored her constitutional responsibility. This is shocking but not unexpected.
The creation of carbon sinks is a moral as well as an economic necessity. Worldwide, natural disasters of enormous magnitude are wreaking havoc because of human activity. Climate change is an observable phenomenon and its impact on life, all life, is already alarming.
Left unchecked, the consequences for humanity will be just too nightmarish to contemplate. Any responsible government will have ensured without any prompting that new emissions by power stations such as the Kusile and Medupi coal-fired power stations will be adequately sequestrated by new carbon sinks equal to the problem that is soon to arise.
The creation of carbon sinks has economic value also. To begin with, people in many poverty stricken rural areas will have sustainable jobs establishing, maintaining and expanding big carbon sinks. Sustainable harvesting in future years from the plant life that is being established will add to the appeal of such projects. If degraded areas are being targeted for reclamation purposes through the establishment of carbon sinks, double benefits will accrue and adjoining areas will benefit in numerous ways, not least of them being water conservation.
COPE believes that all planning must factor in sustainability and environmental good practices. What the left hand does to damage the environment the right hand must rectify in equal measure and parallel time.
Government and Eskom are grossly remiss and inconsiderate in failing to establish carbon sinks. Citizens of our country who wish to mitigate the fury of nature, which is becoming increasingly incensed by human misconduct towards the environment, must clamour for greater environmental sensitivity and commitment. They must do so both for themselves as well as for their progeny.
Once again we have another Minister in government who is failing to uphold the Constitution seeing that section 24(b)(iii) stipulates that “everyone has the right to have the environment protected for the benefit of present and future generations, through reasonable legislative and other measures that secure ecologically sustainable development and use of natural resources while promoting justifiable economic and social development”.
My response to the Minister’s reply is that she blatantly avoided answering the question and that she should account to the country for overlooking her constitutional obligation.