Cape Town - With written comments on the Climate Change Bill due on May 27, numerous environmental organisations, activists and youth groups have been hosting meetings, webinars and gatherings to unpack the bill and assist all to make informed comments and ensure a safe and climate-resilient South Africa.
The Climate Change Bill was tabled in Parliament in February and was set to go through various public participation and law-making processes in order to become South Africa’s Climate Change Act.
The bill intended to ensure that South Africa was empowered to respond adequately and safely to climate change and its risks as well as impacts by regulating climate change mitigation, managing climate change adaptation, and defining the responsibilities of all spheres of government in responding to climate change.
The Centre for Environmental Rights (CER) hosted a Climate Change Bill Webinar earlier this month to share the findings of their research into the Bill, the global best practice around similar climate laws, as well as their concerns so that people would be inspired to submit their own comments and have a say in how this all-important law was shaped.
CER climate advocacy lawyer Brandon Abdinor said the Bill was very weak in terms of enforcement, the urgency of time-frames, transparency, access to information, and emission reduction targets as South Africa’s emissions reduction targets would not ensure the country stayed within 1.5°C of global warming.
“While the bill establishes a broad framework that could enable an urgent and suitable response, there is much detail missing and it does not directly provide for the kind of emergency response that we need to be gearing up for,” Abdinor said.
African Climate Alliance (ACA) spokesperson Gabriel Klaasen said they were concerned the bill was too weak and would not hold strong and true to what was needed. He said this, alongside the lack of timelines, was highly concerning.
“While we are excited about the idea of there being a climate change bill that would be put forward, we are concerned about the short duration period for consultation.
“We have relied on partners for information sharing and knowledge building, if not for them and our advocacy programme we would have very little to no knowledge on the bill,” Klaasen said.
Abdinor said the climate crisis was taking place yet the bill did not reflect the urgency of the situation as many of the most important adaptation measures that the government was required to take only have to be implemented three to five years after the act was in place – and it could still be years before that happened.