SA tackles climate change

7 June 2007

The goverment is finalising a greenhouse gas inventory which will inform South Africa’s first ever long-term national climate policy.

“This process will outline the range of ambitious but realistic scenarios of future climate action, notably long-term emissions scenarios and their cost implications,” Tourism Minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk told the National Assembly in Cape Town this week.

The policy is expected to be published in 2008/09.

Delivering his department’s budget vote, Van Schalkwyk said the policy recognised the need for integrated government planning, which was currently being carried out through a body called the national climate change committee.

He added that various national departments, provinces and cities were refining their plans in line with the national climate change strategy, which would eventually culminate in a national adaptation plan.

According to Van Schalkwyk, nature-based tourism and wildlife were cited as key attractions by about 30% of South Africa’s international visitors.

“With tourism contributing just over 8% to our GDP [gross domestic product], the economic impact of climate change on tourism could be very large indeed,” he said.

“Globally, by mid-century, 20% to 30% of plant and animal species are likely to be at increased risk of extinction as a result of climate change.”

The intergovernmental panel of climate change has also indicated that between 25% and 40% of animal species in national parks in sub-Saharan Africa would become threatened.

“South African fynbos and the succulent Karoo ecosystem seem particularly vulnerable, and for a mean global temperature increase of between 2º and 3ºC during this century, we stand to lose between 50% and 65% of our unique fynbos,” Van Schalkwyk said.

“In order to conserve our magnificent heritage and key environmental assets, and ensure that these are passed on intact to the children and grandchildren of our nation, and indeed the world, we have to recognise that our knowledge base is incomplete.”

He added that his department would focus on enhancing research on the impacts of climate change on key environmental assets and biodiversity management on land and in oceans.

This would in turn inform ecosystem planning, biodiversity management, the management of marine resources, park management and climate change adaptive plans.

Source: BuaNews