Stop and think about the implications of this increase in heat alone. And what about the steady rise in extreme weather events we are already experiencing, such as droughts, flooding, fires?
Here are a few examples of how it is (already now) impacting the NDP objectives:
Economy and employment – the financial costs of the impacts of climate change, including investing in stranded assets such as fossil fuel power plants, will reduce our economic potential, thus employment opportunities;
Economic Infrastructure – increasingly frequent and extreme weather events are likely to damage our current and planned infrastructure such as buildings, roads, etc.;
An integrated and inclusive rural economy – climate change is directly impacting agriculture due to changing climate conditions and rainfall patterns. Coal mining, which feeds one of the main sources of greenhouse gas emissions, is detrimental to agriculture because of land use changes as well as water and soil pollution;
Safer communities – the poorer communities are the most vulnerable to the effects of climate change, as they don’t necessarily have the resources needed to cope with rapidly changing circumstances, let alone extreme weather events. The floods that engulfed large parts of Alexandra’s informal settlement in 2016 are a good example. Climate change is also feeding instability and tensions, as people and communities face increasingly challenging living conditions. The events in Syria give us an idea of what the future might look like for South Africa.
To a large extent, the South African Government, labour, and business are not united in the vision behind Chapter 5 of the NDP. As a result, there are multiple instances where the implementation of existing legislation and policies fall short – or worse, go against the objective of transitioning to a low-carbon economy.
It is extremely concerning that there is a persisting sentiment in South Africa that environmental issues are separate from, and even conflicting with socio-economic matters. “Development comes at a cost”, stated an employee of the African Development Bank (AfDB) at the Africa Investment Forum held in Johannesburg on 7-9 November 2018. That cost is climate change, and she seemed to believe that it is a price worth paying – but who will foot the bill?
This statement is not only false; it is dangerously misguiding. It doesn’t have to be that way.