5 Policy Approaches & Actions

The achievement of South Africa’s climate change response objective will be brought about by employing the strategies outlined above and, specifically, through the implementation of various policy approaches and actions for key climate change impacted and/or affected sectors as described below.

The first sectors to be described include those that, in the short- to medium-term, are broadly regarded as the key sectors required to implement, primarily, climate change adaptation responses including –

  • Water – water is arguably the primary medium through which climate change impacts will be felt by people, ecosystems and economies;

  • Agriculture – after water, the prognosis for domestic food security and the agricultural industry more broadly, is a major cause for concern; and

  • Human Health – further threats to an already challenging national health profile is also of concern

Figure 1: The 2000 South African Greenhouse Gas Emission Profile

Figure 1: The 2000 South African Greenhouse Gas Emission Profile


The second set of sectors include those that, informed by South Africa.s greenhouse gas emissions profile (see Figure 1) and the mitigation potential of the sectors that are responsible for over 80% of South Africa’s greenhouse gas emissions and that are thus the key sectors required to make a significant contribution to South Africa’s mitigation efforts including –

  • Energy –This section focuses in particular on the impact that energy efficiency, renewable energy technologies and a nuclear roll out could have on South Africa.s greenhouse gas profile;

  • Industry – responsible for a significant contribution to South Africa’s total greenhouse gas emissions; and

  • Transport – responsible for over 8% of South Africa.s total emissions.

The remaining sectors are also regarded as significant and include –

  • Disaster Risk Management – an urgent short- to medium-term response area and one where proactive long term responses are critical

  • The Natural resources sectors – sectors that require a predominantly adaptation response, including Terrestrial Biodiversity, Marine Biodiversity, Commercial Forestry and Fisheries

  • Human Society, Livelihoods and Services – extremely important sectors in terms of both adaptation and mitigation responses, including: Human Settlements, Infrastructure and the Built Environment; Education; The Banking Sector and Insurance Industry; Rural livelihoods and Waste

For clarity, the following sectoral policy approaches and actions are structured in the following way:

  1. firstly, a very brief description of the sector in a climate change context;

  2. bullet points on selected climate change impacts and/or implications for the sector; and

  3. numbered policy approaches and actions for each sector. 


Diagram summarising Sector contribution to total GHG emissions

It would be useful to create a diagram that guides Interest groups and members of the public as to what can be done. If the breakdown was in terms of the 'greatest threat' and in terms of 'those who could impact on / change' the levels of GHG emissions in that area - it would help to guide actions.

Eg Electricity generation is responsible for around 45-50% of all GHG emmissions. This can lead to two areas of action - all those who consume electricity can work out ways to reduce their consumption profile - Industry - look for less energy intensive ways of achieving the same end - Households - look for ways to save energy in our personal lives etc.

Most important of all - Those who produce the Electricity need to find new ways of generating non-GHG emitting electricity!
This cannot be done by Industry or by Households - or even by Eskom by themselves - this falls squarely into the lap of Government as they guide/control the production of all our electricity. Even the private sector 'potential' IPP's cannot control this - they are entirely dependant upon government to regulate/guide/control this process.
This needs to be clear so that it is clear who needs to act here!

Another example is that of Transport - which is responsible for another big chunk of GHG emissions. Private cars are our responsibility as car-owners - but our options are limited by the availability of alternatives. Alternatives in the form of reliable public transport that does not emmit GHG's. Alternatives in the form of cars that emitt far less GHG's - more efficient combustion engines or hybrids or electric cars. Government runs most of the public transport options - whether this is national government or Provincial or even local government. As such it is up to them to be exploring and making available busses that are electric or run on biodiesel or are driven by electric motors powered by fuel cells that use hydrogen (or other fuels). National government needs to be driving these programs actively and creating the framework for them to happen with the involvement of a variety of actors - private sector businesses - us as consumers etc.

Electric cars are another area that needs to be stressed appropriately - government could have a big impact on the take-up of hybrids or 'plug-in' electric cars by the simple expident of reducing the import tax on these vehicles by 30% or 50% or 75%. This would make them far more attractive to those buying cars. Of course this would have to go along with an appropriate renewables strategy in the generation of electricity - or we would just be shifting the GHG emissions from the car to the power station that now ultimately drives that car!

crosslinkages in policy actions and strategy

We encourage a section under human health or Human society livelihoods and societies which looks at an integrated approach to adaptation and links key sectors such as water, biodiversity and ecosystem services (natural resources), agriculture and health as well as disaster management.

Solid Waste: a sector that impacts negatively on CC

Why is Solid Waste not included as a sector? Waste should not only be a section under Human society, livelihoods and services. Solid waste is a growing sector and concerns every citizen and therefore needs to be highlighted as a sector. The changes in gases in the atmosphere causing changes to the climate are directly ralated to solid waste managment practices. It is not just the waste that has been generated through bad landfill practices that has an impact on CC. The entire process of manufacturing of goods, the distribution thereof, and use of products and of course the management of the waste that is generated produce emmissions that affect the Earth's climate. The minimisation of and the prevention of solid waste, the reuse, reduce and recycling of solid waste are definitely ways to mitigate climate change.

The prevention of waste generation can and will have a huge impact on the reduction of greenhouse emission gases through the conservation of raw materials, less use energy and water, less cutting of trees providing us with larger carbon sinks, more efficient manufacturing processes into products. We also know that through the prevention of waste generation, materials are diverted from landfill and incinerators. Certain waste streams generate greenhouse gases as they decompose in landfills or when it is burnt in incinerators. Methane gas is far more potent than CO2. We also now know that the prevention of waste or a zero waste practise ensure climate change benefits more than any other waste management option.

So the effective and efficient management of waste will lead to the Reduction emissions from energy consumption and transport of products and solid waste to landfill, the Reduce emissions from incinerators, the Reduction methane emissions from landfills and Increase storage of carbon in trees.

Waste may only contribute 2% of green house gasses but it provides a platform to reach every citizen at a very basic level where they can begin to change their behaviour in a changing world.

Bio-Fuel Acceptance

Bio-Fuel acceptance would reduce the transport figure by around 67% (diesel vehicles on the roads up to the end of 2008). The regulators and the 'big-boys' (no names mentioned, Sasol) need to see the potential and climb on-board.The greed is what is killing that potentially huge reduction in CO2.The green paper must include these types of changes if we want to see proper change.