South Africa: President - Tackling Climate Change a National Priority

President Cyril Ramaphosa says transitioning to a low emissions economy offers new opportunities for development.

"We must acknowledge that the transition to a low emissions economy and climate resilient society offers opportunities for new development, investment and job creation.

"It is therefore important that we understand both the opportunities and the risks associated with a climate transition," the President said when he responded to oral questions in the National Council of Provinces on Thursday.

The President -- who will over the weekend participate in the G7 Leaders' Summit in the UK, where climate matters feature high on the agenda -- said tackling climate change is a national priority that requires South Africa to meet its international commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and implement adaptation measures to protect individuals, communities and the economy from the effects of climate change.

"If we do not act now, and if we do not act together as a global community, we will be increasingly vulnerable to adverse weather conditions, food insecurity, water scarcity, displacement of populations and biodiversity loss.

"At the same time, the country's response to climate change needs to be well managed to ensure that it does not negatively impact on the economy or exacerbate inequality, poverty and unemployment."

The President said it is for this reason that The Presidency established the Presidential Climate Commission to identify a path towards a low emissions economy and climate resilient society that is just, promotes inclusive development and job creation, and leaves no one behind.

The Commission is constituted by members of various sectors of society, including business, labour, civil society, youth, research institutes and government.

"This signifies that we recognise the multidimensional nature of climate change and a just transition.

"Cabinet Ministers, particularly those from the economic cluster, actively participate in the Commission's work to ensure that there is political oversight.

"As part of our response to climate change, public consultations have been underway on the draft updated Nationally Determined Contribution.

"This outlines the country's targets for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.

"Once finalised, the updated Nationally Determined Contribution will be submitted to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change ahead of the Climate Change Summit - known as COP 26 - in Glasgow in November," said the President.

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