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26 September 2011

South Africa can expect more Natural Disasters

By Kemantha Govender

Durban - The latest scientific reports show that South Africa will become drier in the west and wetter in the east. This means the country will experience an increase in the frequency of severe weather events, such as drought, tornadoes, floods, and other natural disasters.

Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa said this research formed apart of South Africa's 2nd National Communication to the United Nations, which is now in its final stages before submission.

Speaking at the KwaZulu-Natal Pre-COP 17 Summit at Durban's ICC, Molewa said the document does not only reflect the country's greenhouse gas emissions profile, but the latest science on South Africa's vulnerability to impacts of climate change.

"As far back as 2007, we published the full mitigation potential of our country, recognising the responsibility we have as an energy intensive economy.

"This study - the Long-term Mitigation Scenarios study or LTMS - also informed our policy development process as it identified not only the emission profile of various sectors, but potential areas in which we can reduce our emissions," said Molewa.

The minister also urged all South Africans to join government to reduce carbon emissions while still achieving development targets.

"If we do not act against climate change, and also ensure that the parties reach agreements that will take us a step forward in the reduction of global carbon emissions, our development is at stake, our future is at stake, our pristine beaches are at stake and our future is at stake," said Molewa.

Molewa said come November, government should not negotiate for South Africans but with them. The voices of the poor, underdeveloped, women, workers and the youth must be heard.

"We do this because we are alive to the fact that climate change poses a threat to our efforts to achieve our socio-economic development priorities, whilst it also presents an opportunity to transit towards a green economy," said Molewa.

The conference was attended by several KZN MECS, representatives from the national Environmental Department and a delegation from Mozambique.

"These realities, not only related to our country, but the African continent as a whole. We seek a global fair regime on climate change," said Molewa.

Government's climate change response expo, which will be the people's space for engaging with COP 17, will be a showcase of climate change revolution in the making.

"The expo is a platform for South Africans who, due to limitations associated with United Nations conferences and its processes, can participate and showcase climate change mitigation and adaptation activities and challenges," said Molewa.

Provision has been made for government, business, civil society, academia, labour and media to have dedicated space.

"It is meant for showcasing initiatives such as provincial climate change strategies and the building of climate change responses as local government in delivering basic services and infrastructure."

On the subject of Durban playing host to the important conference, the minister said the city had proved itself on numerous occasion with its successful handling of massive events.

"The wonderful weather of Durban, this ICC will once again deliver an outcome to keep both the Kyto Protocol alive, as well as a renewed commitment and action to operationalise the UNFCCC when we gather in November."

- BuaNews

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