Parks Tau: This war requires change in human activity

Johannesburg- Climate change is one of the biggest challenges of our time.

The cumulative effect of anthropogenic activity over the last 200 years is the main contributor to a rapidly changing climate.

Climate change is a pattern of long-term change in the temperature and weather
patterns globally or regionally that occur naturally.

However, due to the rapid increase in anthropogenic activity, the change in weather patterns and temperature is being accelerated.

The contributions of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to climate change are too evident to ignore. Average global temperatures are increasing, extreme weather events are becoming more severe, ocean levels are rising, and acidification is occurring. All of these ecological threats are a result of human activity.

Although the impacts of a rapidly changing climate cannot be prevented, its intensity can be minimised through changing business as usual and adopting greener ways of operating as a society.

The Paris Agreement, which is a comprehensive framework that guides international efforts to limit GHG emissions and to meet all the associated challenges posed by climate change, was reached in 2015.

The Paris Agreement sets out a global framework to avoid dangerous climate change by limiting global warming to well below 2°C and pursuing efforts to limit it to 1.5°C.

South Africa is a signatory to the Paris Agreement and has committed (in the updated Nationally Determined Contribution) to limit its GHG emissions for the periods 2021-2025 and 2026 – 2030, respectively.

The Gauteng department of agriculture and rural development has been mandated by Gauteng executive council to provide climate leadership in the Gauteng City Region.

The department had to develop a Gauteng climate action roadmap and clarify roles and responsibilities for various stakeholders, including provincial government departments and the private sector.

The Gauteng City Region over-arching climate change response strategy and action plan has been completed and approved by the executive council on the August 26 2020.

Through the implementation of this strategy, Gauteng is contributing its fair of South Africa’s commitment made in the National Determined Contribution document.

The Gauteng department of infrastructure development has a green technology programme with sub-programmes on solar rooftop, gas conversion and supply in hospitals, installation of smart meters to track the average consumption, water conservation, wastewater recycling, and waste to energy. The solar rooftop sub-programme is estimated to install 10MWp across all 11 health care facilities for phase one. The amount saved as a result of the installation of smart meters will be over R300-million on electricity bills.

Transport is the second-most GHG-emitting sector after energy in Gauteng. Implementation of green infrastructure for construction of roads and non-motorised transport systems has also been prioritised.

While provincial and local governments are responsible for development of policy framework and implementation of certain flagship programmes, most of climate change response work lie within the private sector.

Gauteng commends initiatives undertaken by  the private sector and also encourages other institutions to commission similar programmes.

Mpho Parks Tau at the Arbor Day celebration at Diepsloot Memorial Park on September 15, 2021 in Johannesburg, South Africa. (Photo by Gallo Images/Sharon Seretlo)
  • Tau is Gauteng MEC for economic development, environment, agriculture and rural development

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