The panel discussion was hosted by the organisation Project 90 by 2030 which works with youth, communities and civil society organisations to advocate for a just energy transition towards energy systems that are more sustainable for the planet.
It mobilises citizens, business and governments to reduce the impact on the environment and create a decarbonised economy.
At the discussion, which was attended by various organisations which focus on climate change, it was said that coal is the biggest contributor to climate change.
Glen Tyler from the organisation 350.org said South Africa needed to decrease the burning of coal.
“According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the country must reduce its carbon emissions by two-thirds by 2030. Decisive action needs to be taken regarding carbon emissions. As well as making greater use of renewable energy.”
Professor Nicholas King, an environmental futurist on global change, said 20 years ago natural disasters could not be attributed to climate change.
“But during the last decade we saw some of the worst fires. In the US, a lot of hurricanes also occurred. Due to their severity we can attribute this to climate change. Because the increase in temperatures are leading to the Earth getting warmer and a decrease in rainfall,” King said.
Richard Worthington from Friederich Ebert Stifting, agreed that coal was one the biggest contributors to climate change. “It has a big impact on the environment and the country needs to look at it,” he said.
In response, National Department of Environmental Affairs spokesperson Albi Modise said: “The National Development Plan has a chapter that speaks about low carbon emissions.
There is also the National Climate Change Response Policy which looks at the different provisions of energy and the transition to renewable energy.
“The country is at the forefront of climate change policies. The national department of transport also has a green transport strategy.
“And South Africa signed the Paris Agreement, which says that we agree to cutting carbon emissions.
“The government accepts the conclusions of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that the warming of the climate system is a result of human activity,” Modise said.@RusanaPhilander