The Umdloti roundabout, north of Duraban, was washed away by the floods. Photo: Rosetta Msimang/City Press
Recent floods that have hit parts of KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape have prompted the ANC to propose the establishment of an ad hoc parliamentary committee on building resilience to climate change.
The party’s policy and national conference drafting committee will ensure that the issue is included in its discussion papers.
This is according to a 10-page report from the party’s special National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting, which took place last week.
The Forestry, Fisheries and Environment Parliamentary Portfolio Committee currently covers nine different branches. A separate committee focusing solely on climate change would therefore ease the burden on the ministry and enable greater focus on the issue, with more than 43 bridges and access roads having now been affected, adding to existing backlogs.
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The floods, which washed away homes and infrastructure in both provinces, are believed to have been caused by climate change, meaning greater action needs to be taken to deal with the problem.
“The true cost of the current disaster is still being calculated, coming so soon after another flood in 2019. It is clear that these extreme weather conditions are affecting our country more frequently, highlighting the need for urgent attention to building climate change resilience and mitigation at the heart of our strategy for a better life for all,” reads the report.
He also explored other ways to ease the situation, saying there were “humanitarian challenges” in assisting communities that had been devastated by the floods.
“The floods destroyed homes and infrastructure (mainly) roads, disrupted services (water, electricity, communication) and economic activities in the province. The impact on logistics and the port of Durban will be felt across the country, given its strategic importance for imports and exports.
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“In addition to regular reports from KwaZulu-Natal, once attention was drawn to flooding also affecting Port St Johns, the Eastern Cape was asked to brief the committee, as well as the Mayor of Port St Johns. humanitarian donations collected in the Eastern Cape have been redirected to Port St Johns and the provincial government is engaging with the Department of Cooperative Governance for support,” according to the report.
The document also refers to the Western Cape fires which destroyed more than 300 huts in Langa, displacing more than 1,300 people.
The ruling party has said it will send NEC deployments to the area, while District Development Model Champions have been hired to work with the province to deal with the situation.
“The city [Cape Town] is adamant that he won’t ask for a disaster declaration, presumably because he can get away with it.
The report said:
However, for the first two nights, people had to sleep in the open, with no public rooms or facilities open to them. Gift of the Givers and other community organizations helped with temporary relief packages. The province’s ANC is working with the Anglican Diocese of Cape Town and other non-governmental organizations to help the community.
Forestry, Fisheries and Environment Minister Barbara Creecy said the government was looking to mitigate climate change in many other ways and mentioned in particular how it affected poor communities across the country.
“All research shows that people living in poverty will be the most affected by climate change. What we need to do is make sure people know what it’s about,” she said.
Minister of Forests, Fisheries and the Environment Barbara Creecy cites the introduction of the carbon tax.
The President appointed Daniel Mminele [head of the newly established presidential climate finance task team] to study what they offer, the terms and conditions and how we might use [the money] without worsening our sovereign debt crisis. “And then the Treasury introduced a carbon tax, saying it would go up in the next few years.
This week, the climate change bill was opened for comment.
The bill aims to enable the development of an effective response to climate change and a just and long-term transition to a low-carbon, climate-resilient economy and society.
It also provides for the creation of the Presidential Climate Commission, where different sectors of society – trade unions, civil society, business and government ministers – will advise on the country’s response to climate change.
The function of this commission includes offering advice on the country’s implementation of the proposed bill.
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The commission can also conduct research on reducing greenhouse gas emissions and adapting to the effects of climate change.
While all of these initiatives are for the greater good of society, Creecy said the real challenge was to ensure that a budget was allocated so that the proposed plans and strategies could be successfully implemented.
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This, she said, might not be easy, since South Africa is a developing country and other departments need the money.
South Africa was offered $8.5 billion (R134 billion) from US and European powers at the UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, Scotland last year, this which Creecy said the government was still considering.
“The President appointed Daniel Mminele [head of the newly established presidential climate finance task team] to study what they offer, the terms and conditions and how we might use [the money] without worsening our sovereign debt crisis.
“And then the Treasury introduced a carbon tax, saying it would increase in the next few years,” she added.