Most Vulnerable Sectors of Society Will Be the Poor

Article excerpt

BYLINE: Tasneem Essop

On THE first anniversary of the Review of the Economics of Climate Change released by Sir Nicholas Stern, it is incumbent on us to take stock of the actions that we have undertaken in response to the Review's key imperative.

To my mind, the key imperative of the Review is the conclusion that it is more economically prudent for governments to commence climate change adaptation and mitigation sooner rather than later.

The longer we delay our climate change response, the greater the socio-economic cost to achieve the same level of adaptation and mitigation.

The government of the United Kingdom and the Western Cape Department of Environmental Affairs and Development Planning have recently signed a two-and-a-half- year Technical Co-operation Agreement to implement a "Clean Energy Governance Programme for the Western Cape Province", to develop a provincial Sustainable Energy Policy and related supportive institutional and regulatory arrangements for the province.

The Department of Environmental Affairs and Development Planning has been working with the South African National Biodiversity Institute's Global Change Unit since 2005, when Dr Guy Midgley led a team of eminent local scientists in a preliminary study to investigate the vulnerability of the Western Cape Province to climate change.

The report by the group of researchers clearly indicated that the Western Cape would be severely impacted by climate change - temperatures warming and precipitation reducing.

It is estimated that the water-poor Western Cape faces reductions of up to 30% in annual runoff by the end of the century.

The report also highlighted that the most vulnerable sectors of society will be the poor, and predicted climate changes will negatively impact on socio-economic development and environmental sustainability during the course of the century.

Thus, we have said that climate change is a poverty issue.

By 2006, my department initiated the development of a comprehensive Climate Change Response Strategy and Action Plan.

The report has reached the final draft stage and it will be finalised for release in Bali next month.

As part of this plan, two programme management units will be established with the aim of building new capacity in Climate Change Response and Sustainable Energy Management.

Many climate change adaptation, mitigation and research projects are already under way within the province but these need to be up-scaled in future and climate change response measures, both in adaptation and mitigation, need to be integrated into key provincial and local government development programmes and projects. …