27 June 2005

South Africa warned to scale back on gas emissions

Forget about South Africa's big soccer date in 2010 for a moment. Focus instead on 2012 - that's the date when South Africa's honeymoon with cheap and dirty energy supplies is likely to come to an end.

Just seven years from now, the country will most likely be forced by fellow Kyoto Treaty members to scale back on greenhouse gas emissions.

This was the warning given to business and industry by Shirley Moroka, deputy director of Global Climate Change in the department of environmental affairs and tourism.

Speaking at the Durban Chamber of Commerce and Industry's annual environmental congress, Moroka said four developing countries - South Africa, China, India and Brazil - were expected to come under increasing world pressure to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions from 2012 onwards.

South Africa relies on cheap supplies of coal-generated electricity and is the largest greenhouse gas generator in Africa.

In terms of the Kyoto Treaty which came into force earlier this year, the major industrialised nations of the West are legally bound to reduce their industrial greenhouse gas emissions by an average of 5,2 percent during the treaty's so-called "first commitment period" which lasts from 2008 to 2012.

In this period, developing countries such as South Africa are exempted from having to cut back greenhouse gas emissions.

However, during the second commitment period, which begins in 2012, Moroka says, South Africa will almost certainly have to make cutbacks.

"I don't see us escaping any form of commitments - but we will also have to be able to live with those limits."

According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change greenhouse gases are being pumped into the the atmosphere at levels which speed up global warming.

Moroka said there was no longer any doubt that global climate change had started. She said government and industry had to recognise this fact and incorporate climate-change impacts into long-term planning - even to the extent of locating future industrial zones and housing states further away from the coastline because of expected sea-level rises and storm-related disasters.

However, Durban environmental lobbyist Andy Cobb said he detected a noticeable lack of urgency in South Africa on climate change issues. This was despite predictions that Mount Kilimanjaro would lose its snow cover within 15 years because of rising world temperatures.

Bonke Dumisa, Chief Executive of the Durban chamber, also told the congress that the days of driving big petrol-driven cars and intensive use of natural resources were coming to an end.

"Can we continue to live this lifestyle in the next 25 years? The answer is no."

Source: www.iol.co.za


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