Tag Archive | climate change

Electric cars part of SA climate change response

Green for go on electric cars…..

green carIn terms of SA’s climate change response policy  the department of environmental affairs (DEA) have launched their Emission Electric Vehicle Programme, known to many as the “Green Car” programme.  The centre chosen for the final development of the prototype vehicles will be at the Gerotek test facility in Pretoria.

Enviro objectives 

This initiative was originally announced at the COP17 conference in Durban recently hosted by South Africa and it seeks to ensure that South Africa practically contributes to the reduction of environmentally harmful gases by promoting the use of cleaner sources of fuel by the automotive industry.

The recent statement says that the fleet of zero emission electric vehicles are now fully powered by solar energy from a high-tech assembly of solar tracking panels housed at the department’s head office, rather than using power from the national grid.

Says the statement, “The high tech solar panels powering the vehicles generate enough electricity to power the fleet and feed back into the national grid, further incentivising the move for other government departments and ordinary citizens to consider traveling green.”

Part of climate change response

DEA adds that the programme also keeps South Africa in line with international developments in automotive “green” technology and is in line with the National Climate Change Response referred to by President Zuma in his state of the nation address.

Amongst the expected parties coordinating with each other on the “Green Cars” project, such as DTI, and the transport, science, technology and energy departments are both SARS and national treasury.

Full backing

dipou Peters2Said minister Dipou Peters earlier at the launch in Pretoria, “The project is aimed at demonstrating the capability and readiness for  South Africa to transition to a low carbon path in the transport sector with the use of a combination of renewable energy technology; state of the art electric vehicles and a carbon neutral offset mechanism.”

Four Nissan LEAF test cars are to be placed at the Department of Environmental Affairs disposal for usage and testing in the initial phase of the project, to be run over three years. The LEAF, is the world’s first mass produced electric vehicle, which will be launched later this year in South Africa by Nissan as the first car manufacturer to introduce a one hundred percent electric vehicle into the country.

Posted in Electricity, Energy, Enviro,Water, Trade & Industry, Transport0 Comments

Parliament briefed on new climate response policy

climatechange2DEA outlines its climate response plans…..

Ms Judy Beaumont, deputy director-general for climate change in the department of environmental affairs (DEA), has told parliamentarians that the objectives of the national climate response policy were to manage inevitable climate change impacts through interventions that built resilience and emergency response capacity and to make a fair contribution to the global effort to stabilize green house gas (GHG) concentrations.

The department has made a number of presentations to parliamentary portfolio committees in recent weeks updating members on a six-month basis following the public hearings in June of this year resulting from the introduction of the White Paper on National Climate Change.

What can be done, says DEA

Ms Beaumont set out DEA’s current position, resulting in a National Climate Change Response Policy.  She said that her department has developed and detailed what the department calls “deliverables”.

She gave details of the plans to implement the programmes being run currently and the process being used to effect the general response policy which she described as “mitigation, adaptation and monitoring”. She also described DEA’s relationships with other government departments regarding their climate mitigation programmes and with national treasury regarding finance.

All in the same direction

Beaumont said that what had come out of the hearings was the need for a common set of climate scenarios and likely impact scenarios and it was necessary to build in a system of monitoring the situation as it developed so that all knew exactly on an ongoing basis what the picture was and how climate change was affecting the country, both economically and from a disaster aspect.

The major mitigation programmes to reduce carbon emissions needed to have a common set of desired outcomes so all knew what the target was, she said, and all the “flagship” climate change programmes being run in various parts of the country had to be in harmony with common criteria established under the response document, she noted.

Carbon budgets to follow

She said once the desired emission reduction outcomes (DEROs) had been defined then  carbon budgets were to be drawn up for relevant economic sectors.

Various departmental officials detailed some of the current issues under focus, one being a draft of South Africa’s monitoring and evaluation system framework by October 2013, followed by the report on the same subject to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change by December 2014.

Some of the adaptation programmes on climate change were the dept. of agriculture’s land care plans; sectoral agro and agro industry programmes; an atlas on climate change and much research.  From the department of water affairs there was water conservation and demand management and from the South African weather service came a flow of forecasting, early warning and research, coupled with work through the national disaster management sector.

All headed towards agreed responses actions

She added that an important contributor with programmes linked to others was the department of cooperative governance where there was “mainstreaming of disaster risk reduction planning in progress with response toolkits”.  DEA had established, Ms Beaumont said, “that there should be a common set of climate scenarios, impact scenarios in key sectors and a need to assess costs and agree adaptation responses per sector.”

Into the entire process. DEA said, account had to be taken of the energy efficiency strategy being prepared by the department of energy, its integrated energy plan and the renewable energy independent power producer programme.

Scenario planning in three stages

On scenario planning, parliamentarians were told that the intention was to “project and evaluate the socio-economic and environmental implications of potential impacts of anticipated climate change and climate variability and the adaptation responses options available” for identified sectors in South Africa over the next decade and until 2025; in the medium for the next two to three decades until 2050 and with long term scenario visualisation to the end of the century.

The shorter term scenarios were already in progress and due for completion and funding had come from the German development organisation, GIZ, to conduct phase one of the long-term scenarios, where initial work had been undertaken.

Links with the national committee on climate change and all such scenario planning was in place, the committee was told.

Carbon Tax still  an imponderable

In answer to questions, DEA said that on carbon tax and a “carbon budget interface” an analysis of the different policy approaches and interfaces between the carbon budget and carbon tax instruments was currently underway. In funding much of the climate change response work in South Africa, parliamentarians were told, national treasury were leading the debate on this, if indeed there was to be a carbon tax, and were to finalise any carbon tax policy for national debate to counter the rise in GHGs.

A tax rate of R75 per tonne of CO2, rising to approximately R200 per tonne over time had been suggested “to save South Africa from potential catastrophic changes in its climate”  but as one parliamentarian told DEA, with global recession hitting business and industry to the extent it has, now and into the same scenario future, it has become doubtful who is the most threatened party.

Posted in Energy, Enviro,Water, Finance, economic, Fuel,oil,renewables, Health, Land,Agriculture, Mining, beneficiation, Public utilities, Trade & Industry0 Comments

Climate response White Paper gets underway

According to a meeting of the parliamentary portfolio committee on water and environmental affairs, it was circulated to members that work has at last commenced on a White Paper on South Africa’s response to climate change.

In a Green Paper issued for public comment last year, the department of environmental said, “Taking into account the inter-generational commitment contained in the Constitution, South Africa has the climate change response objective of making a fair contribution to the global effort on climate change.”

“This is to achieve the stabilisation of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that prevents dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system.”

The Green Paper went on to say that adaption to and management of unavoidable and potential damaging climate change impacts through interventions that build and sustain South Africa’s social, economic and environmental resilience and emergency response capacity.

In line with this objective, the document now being circulated says that a White Paper is to be instituted shortly by an “inter-governmental committee on climate change” comprised of senior officials from all three tiers of government. The committee was told that NEDLAC will play a key coordinating role and various “social partners and academia” are to be included.

Together, these committees will oversee a technical working group on adaptation, a further working group on mitigation and, finally, a task team to handle monitoring and evaluation.

The whole exercise will focus on renewable energy supplies; energy efficiency and energy demand management; waste management; carbon capture and sequestration; water conservation and demand management; and, finally, transportation issues.


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WWF warns that carbon tax must come to SA

World Wildlife Fund (WWF) warned South Africans that  “by not having a carbon tax to pay for carbon reduction programmes, the result was  too expensive for human well-being”. They were addressing the parliamentary committee on energy on outcomes of the COP17 conference on global warming, held recently in Durban.    WWF said that SA achieved the outcomes it needed at COP17 inasmuch that SA delegates had interceded sufficiently to prevent the breakdown of the Kyoto Protocol on African soil.   Nevertheless, there were still, in the opinion of WWF, massive “ambition gaps” in global warming objectives and that the “citizens of the world as a whole are still held hostage by the major developed countries”.

WWF representatives said South Africans should be very proud of the way this conference had been run; the high standard of input from the department of energy (DOE) and the contributions made by South African experts towards “a just transition to a sustainable environment.”

The most important achievement at COP 17 in their view was the setting up of a Green Climate Fund, although WWF admitted there is no funding income at this stage. Nevertheless, WWF said that whilst these funds may never reach the proportions expected, there was little doubt that money would start flowing in.

On the positive side it was to be noted, however, that not only had the “firewall” that had come about between developed and developing countries been broken down to some extent but that  carbon dioxide reductions targets expressed at earlier COP conferences were being realized as serious issues and not “pie in the sky” warnings.

At present, South Africa faced a carbon constrained future and hopefully it seemed had realized thus but the country was now at the point where it could be a market leader on the issue, or as WWF warned, it could be a “laggard reflecting technology interventions applied too late.”

“We are still treating every problem as if we only had a hammer and every challenge was a nail. The country had to start thinking outside the box, find new solutions and stop falling back on the coal as public enemy number one”, WWF said.

Whilst South Africa, WWF said, was not a country with large land-areas under forestation, the overall principle that 20 percent of global carbon emissions are caused by forms of deforestation –greater than emissions from every car, truck and plane on the planet combined – such facts still applied to South Africa.   Even if countries fulfil their current mitigation pledges, the world will still faced between a 2.6ᵒC and a 4°C scale of warming, which would leave the country in a perilous state.

Coal burning still remained the greatest exuder of carbon emissions and South Africa found itself therefore in a delicate position. Ways had to be found around these issues, whilst energy efficiency was still a totally underestimated answer for South Africa as a tool to fight global warming, WWF said.

They noted that SA, consequently, was “only behind China and India in carbon emissions” but it was to be noted that China had “already smelt the coffee” and was instituting changes. South Africa, they said, should join with China in the search for innovative programmes.

On carbon tax, WWF said that “SARS was an effective body and we should build on their abilities and clear with them a long-term scale-up trajectory of tax collection, starting on a low-scale manner in order not to upset development.”

On the country’s energy programme, WWF said that government has a direct and very powerful influence in the electricity sector and in the light of the benefit of this, in terms of the IEP, more could be achieved. There was economic  over-reliance on the mining sector for answers in energy planning generally but no single factor – whether it be energy security; job creation; CO2 emissions; water impacts or social impacts – should be “allowed to trump each other” in the search for answers.

WWF attacked fracking as a fuel industry practice. Air pollution from shale gas extraction was going to be a major problem if allowed, worse by far than coal they said. “Indeed, fracking is not even an option”.

WWF also noted that carbon intensities of methane gas were, according to US government survey results, excessive and fracking therefore did not fall into a low carbon future at all.  Underground water resources within a 17 mile distance from a well were contaminated and job creation opportunities were transient and temporary in nature.

Until the fuel companies can provide better data that could qualify and quantify a clearer future for this process, then the moratorium should not be lifted, WWF said. No specific fuel company was mentioned.

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