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NCOP approves Climate Change Bill

The Minister of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment, Barbara Creecy, has welcomed the approval of the Climate Change Bill by the National Council of Provinces (NCOP).

“Climate change is here, and we have relatively little time to respond. The Bill empowers us to respond at the necessary scale and speed, building on the considerable amount of work we have already done,” the Minister said on Monday.

The objectives of the Climate Change Bill are, among others, to enable the development of an effective climate change response and a long-term just transition to a low-carbon and climate-resilient economy and society for South Africa in the context of sustainable development.

“The NCOP’s approval of the Climate Change Bill is a landmark in our response to climate change.

“Since 2011, when we outlined South Africa’s response to climate change in our National Climate Change Response White Paper, we have been putting in place the instruments for an integrated response. Now, this Bill will integrate all of these components into a robust legal framework, and mainstream climate action across government,” Creecy said.

The Minister said the Bill will provide the much-needed legal framework to regulate activities that contribute to climate change, ensure an effective response in all spheres of government and by the society at large, ensure a just transition, and maximize the opportunities afforded to the economy by the global shift to a green economy.

The Bill sets out to ensure that the climate actions are facilitated and coordinated across spheres of government.

“It establishes Provincial Forums on Climate Change and Municipal Forums on Climate Change, which will be integrated into current institutions and planning processes. It provides for the development of provincial and municipal climate change needs and response assessments, and corresponding climate change response implementation plans.

“The Bill places the Presidential Climate Commission (PCC) on a formal footing as an independent organ of state to provide advisory on matters of just transition. The PCC will continue to be headed by the President, which sends a strong signal of South Africa’s commitment to addressing the complex challenges of responding to climate change and the urgency with which this needs to be achieved,” the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment said.

It further provides clear frameworks for mitigation, adaptation and a mechanism to support and finance the country’s climate change response.

“On mitigation, the Bill provides for a just transition away from our current carbon-intensive energy system and towards a decarbonized economy and society, while meeting our critical development challenges.

“To achieve this, the Bill formalises our Greenhouse Gas Inventory to strengthen the evidence base for further climate action, and our current reporting processes.

“The Bill also provides for the development of a long-term national greenhouse gas emissions trajectory and its review from time to time, and establishes a clear legal basis for allocating sectoral emissions targets to relevant sectors, and carbon budgets to large emitters,” the department said.

On adaptation, the Bill provides for the establishment of national adaptation objectives, the development of climate scenarios to assess vulnerabilities, and a National Adaptation Strategy and Plan to manage adaptation in a clear and coordinated manner.

“The Bill provides the mechanisms to support and finance the climate change response, providing guidance and a governance framework to promote planning and implementation by national, provincial and local government.

“This will provide much-needed support to expedite our climate change response, thus climate-proofing our society and economy,” the department said. –

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