11 June 2018

South Africa: National Climate Change Bill Open for Comment

South Africa's National Climate Change Bill has been gazetted and is open for public comment.

"The purpose of the Bill is to build an effective climate change response and ensure the long-term, just transition to a climate resilient and lower carbon economy and society," reads a statement from the department of environmental affairs.

"This will be done within the context of sustainable development for South Africa, and will provide for all matters related to climate change."

The bill acknowledges that climate change is an urgent threat to human societies and the environment, and that it requires an effective, progressive and well-coordinated response.

It further highlights that anticipated domestic climate change impacts have the potential to undermine the country's development goals, and that responses to climate change raise unique challenges, thus requiring a legislative framework for the implementation of the country's national climate change response.

Therefore, the bill provides for institutional and coordination arrangements across the national, provincial and local government spheres and include measures such as a ministerial climate change task team.

The bill also addresses the national adaptation to impacts of climate change, greenhouse gas emissions and removals, and policy alignment and institutional arrangements, and may see the implementation of carbon budgets.

The objects of the bill are to:

- Provide for the coordinated and integrated response to climate change and its impacts on all spheres of government in accordance with the principles of cooperative governance;

- Provide for the effective management of inevitable climate change impacts through enhancing adaptive capacity, strengthening resilience and reducing vulnerability to climate change, with a view to building social, economic, and environmental resilience and an adequate national adaptation response in the context of the global climate change response; and to

- Make a fair contribution to the global effort to stabilise greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that avoids dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system within a timeframe and in a manner that enables economic, employment, social and environmental development to proceed in a sustainable manner.

"Section 24 of the Constitution of South Africa states that everyone has a right to an environment that is not harmful to their health and well-being, and that all have the right to have the environment protected for the benefit of present and future generation, while allowing justifiable environmentally sustainable economic and social development," reads the statement.

The department is undertaking a provincial engagement process, with meetings this month to be held in Mthatha's Savoy hotel on June 12, Port Elizabeth's Southern Sun on June 14, the Nkangala District Municipality Council Chambers Middelburg on June 26, the Protea Hotel Kimberley on June 28 and Bloemfontein's The President Hotel on June 29.

Further meetings will be announced at a later stage.

Members of the public are invited to submit to Minister of Environmental Affairs Edna Molewa by August 8.

The bill can be accessed here.

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