Thank you very much Programme Director.
Minister of Public Enterprises, Minister Malusi Gigaba
Ladies and Gentlemen
I stand here this morning, encouraged and inspired by the proactive and strategic step and approach that the Department of Public Enterprises is taking in responding to the challenges and opportunities associated with the potential impacts of climate change and climate variability. It is critical that we all work together on this matter of strategic national importance, and, Minister Gigaba, this policy framework for state-owned companies is a demonstration of what co-operation can achieve.
We are here to launch this Policy Framework a year after we successfully hosted and participated in COP 17 last year whose agreement significantly advanced the global effort needed now to address the global climate change challenge. The agreement sets a new long-term pathway for the development of a fair, ambitious and legally binding future multi-lateral and rules-based global climate change system which can balance climate and development imperatives.
As government, we recognise that Climate Change is the biggest sustainable development challenge of our time and it is up to us as a country to hold the beacon of hope and act because the effects of climate change are real and are actually here with us.
It is against this background that South Africa has taken a decisive step towards formulating an appropriate response towards the climate change challenge. As an expression of our commitment to find sustainable solutions to the climate change challenge, the South African Government launched the Climate Change Response Policy late last year after a vigorous consultation process.
Minister Gigaba, this Framework also represents part of our commitment to supporting our national effort to transition towards a greener economy.
The National Climate Change Response Policy will guide our approach to climate change impacts and our transition to a climate resilient and low-carbon, job-creating and pro-poor green economy.
The Policy will also ensure that all sectors of our society take part in the effort to mainstream climate-resilient development. Most importantly, our policy puts emphasis on both mitigation and adaptation strategies by various sectors of our society.
On the adaptation, the policy includes a risk-based process to identify and prioritise short and medium-term adaptation interventions to be addressed in sector plans. It also defines the process of identifying the adaptation responses that require coordination between sectors and departments. For the immediate future, we have identified sectors that need particular attention as water, agriculture and forestry, health, biodiversity and human settlements.
Our Policy recognises and acknowledges our commitment to implement nationally appropriate mitigation actions which collectively will result in the reduction of emissions by 34% relative to our Business as Usual trajectory by 2020 and by 42% in 2025 enabled with finance and technology in a context of an international agreement. This level of effort will enable our Greenhouse Gas emission to peak between 2020 and 2025, plateau for approximately a decade and reduce in absolute terms thereafter.
With the National Climate Change Response Policy, South Africa now has a clear roadmap of how this nation, as a responsive government to the needs of our people, and a responsible global citizen will respond to the global challenge of climate change.
This policy embodies South Africa's commitment to a fair contribution to the stabilisation of global greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere and the protection of the country and its people from the impacts of unavoidable impacts of climate change.
The Policy is clear that South Africa is adopting a balanced and developmental approach to responding to the challenges and opportunities of climate change. In this respect, the policy directive is that South Africa will prioritise climate change responses that have both significant mitigation and adaptation benefits, and that also have significant economic growth, job creation, public health, risk management and poverty alleviation benefits.
The launch today, of the Climate Change Policy Framework for State-owned Companies, is an important step in responding to the climate change issues and working with our state-owned companies in taking advantage of the opportunities presented by climate change.
South Africa has relatively high emissions for a developing country, and we should make the most of every opportunity to change this trajectory. According to the greenhouse gas emission profile, the bulk of our emissions are from the energy sector which contributed 79% of the country’s greenhouse gas emissions.
This presents an opportunity for government to work with the relevant state-owned companies to commit to action that will result in emission reductions, recognising the imperative for balancing the climate outcome, with the developmental outcome of economic growth, job creation and poverty alleviation. This is the challenge of transitioning to a lower carbon and climate resilient economy.
In implementing the mitigation elements of the National Climate Change Response Policy, the approach we have adopted is:
· Firstly to build on existing emission reduction projects and programmes;
· Secondly to undertake an in-depth assessment of the mitigation potential of key sectors of the economy, as well as an assessment of the best available mitigation options for the country.
· Thirdly, on the basis of this analysis, and through engagement and dialogue with all stakeholders, we will be in a position to define the desired emission reduction outcomes for key sectors and sub-sectors.
· Finally, this work will be further developed into a mix of mitigation approaches, policies and measures that are best suited to enable the sectors and sub-sectors to achieve the defined desired emission reduction outcomes.
· As part of this work, key sectors will be required to prepare and submit mitigation plans that set out how they intend to achieve their desired emission reduction outcomes. This will present the opportunity to state-owned companies to share and clearly outline their mitigation plans. State-owned companies have a big role to play in contributing to the broader objective of transitioning to a climate resilient, lower carbon and green economy, and we will continue to work closely with them in defining and designing the best mitigation options.
Of course, efforts to reduce emissions must be complimented by efforts to adapt to the impacts of climate change. The policy objective in this respect is to effectively manage inevitable climate change impacts, through interventions that build and sustain South Africa’s social, economic and environmental resilience and emergency response capacity.
In order to give effect to this policy directive, one of the key steps is to strengthen our adaptation planning capacity. We are therefore embarking on a process to develop long term adaptation scenarios for South Africa, in order to inform national, provincial and local adaptation strategies. This process will provide coherent information on the socio-economic and environmental implications of the potential impacts of anticipated climate change and climate variability, and the adaptation response options available.
The work will focus on selected sectors such as agriculture, water, health and human settlements, and will make recommendations for the short, medium and long term. It is designed to enhance and to engage with ongoing adaptation work, and to provide the basis for effective adaptation planning and implementation at local, provincial and national scales.
Minister Gigaba, I commend you and your department for the good work you are doing in responding to the climate change challenge.
In conclusion, I would like to thank all here and lets continue to work together to create a better future for future generations.