Cabinet last week approved three key actions that will contribute to an environment that is healthy for all South Africans and able to contribute effectively to sustainable economic development and job creation, says the Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries (DEFF).
These actions are the Presidential Climate Change Coordinating Commission (P4C), a Low Emissions Development Strategy (LEDS) and a revised National Waste Management Strategy (NWMS) 2020.
The P4C will be chaired by a Presidential nominee, with the objective to advise and guide South Africa’s climate change response to ensure the realisation of the policy objectives of building sustainable social, economic and environmental resilience and emergency response capacity.
Cabinet had approved a preliminary budget of R50-million for the five-year term of the commission, says the DEFF.
The P4C will be established through a Climate Change Bill, which government is finalising.
Among the commission’s first tasks will be to focus on understanding the impact of climate change on jobs, both positive and negative, and climate change responses by sector and location.
This will require the urgent finalisation of the National Employment Vulnerability Assessment, and thereafter sector-resilient job plans.
The commission will also explore opportunities for new upstream and downstream green jobs and green industries that should be exploited and climate resilience interventions that need to be expanded.
Meanwhile, the LEDS will be deposited with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Secretariat. This is further to the country’s Nationally Determined Contribution deposited with the UNFCCC ahead of the signing of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change – in which countries committed to limited the increase in global average temperatures to below 1.5 ˚C above pre-industrial levels.
Depositing the LEDS with the UNFCCC will communicate the country’s needs and priorities so that developed countries who want to support implementation efforts through finance, technology or capacity building are assured that South Africa has a plan to reduce its emissions.
The LEDS centres on measures that are currently being implemented by government to address mitigation in the energy, industrial, agriculture, forestry and land use, and waste sectors.
Various strategies, policies and sector plans have been developed for individual sectors of the economy, which will all contribute to driving emission reductions.
The third measure approved by Cabinet during the meeting was the NWMS 2020 , which was developed in terms of the National Environmental Management: Waste Act.
This strategy is a revision and update of the 2011 strategy and builds on the successes and lessons from the implementation of that strategy.
The NWMS 2020 is focused on preventing waste and diverting waste from landfill by leveraging the concept of the circular economy to drive sustainable, inclusive economic growth and development in the waste sector, while reducing the social and environmental impacts of waste.
Its implementation will create jobs in the waste sector and increase awareness and compliance around waste.
In terms of the strategy’s waste minimisation objective, the aim is to prevent waste. Where waste cannot be prevented, 40% should be diverted from landfill within five years through reuse, recycling, recovery and alternative waste treatment: 25% of waste reduction in waste generation; and 20% waste reused in the economic value chain.
NWMS 2020 also investigates potential regulatory or economic interventions to increase participation rates in residential separation at source programmes, alongside investing in the economies associated with transporting of recyclables to waste processing facilities and addressing the skills gaps within the sector.
The strategy also requires engagement with the National Treasury regarding the operational expenditures for municipalities associated with implementing the NWMS 2020 and the Waste Act.
“Among the significant strategic shifts from the 2011 strategy in the NWMS 2020 include addressing the role of waste pickers and the informal sector in the circular economy, promoting product design packaging that reduces waste or encourages reuse, repair and preparation for recycling, and support markets for source-separated recyclables.
“NWMS 2020 also investigates potential regulatory or economic interventions to increase participation rates in residential separation at source programmes, alongside investing in the economies associated with transporting of recyclables to waste processing facilities and addressing the skills gaps within the sector,” the department explains.