A badly damaged home is illuminated by car headlights. Several homes were damaged after a tornado ripped through Utrecht, just outside Newcastle on Friday. Picture: Ithemba Security Newcastle
Durban - There is rising concern about the effects of climate change in the province after it was hit by four tornadoes this month.

Ulundi, Utrecht, Bergville and New Hanover were hit by the violent thunderstorms leaving a trail of destruction and three people dead.

Global environmental movement Extinction Rebellion said the recent tornadoes and heavy rains in April were a climate change emergency which needed immediate attention.

The movement said climate change was the manifestation of a system that is not working. It emphasised the need to drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions and move towards a carbon-free economy.

Extinction rebellion member Tebogo Makgope said the government needed to intervene.

“Government and corporations must act to put life before profit. I am deeply saddened by the loss of life and the prospects for the future.

“Around the world, human-induced climate change is wreaking havoc. The increase and the frequency of these disasters is only going to get worse,” he said

KwaZulu-Natal Premier Sihle Zikalala acknowledged that communities were taking a direct hit from the effects of climate change, which posed a serious threat to urban infrastructure, quality of life and the entire urban system. He made reference to the heavy rains in April which took 71 lives and caused damage to the city’s infrastructure totalling R1.1billion.

“We must mainstream climate change mitigation and adaptation in local government and economic development plans. We need to mainstream it into education and training curricula and ensure that this becomes the new normal,” said Zikalala.

He said local government was the coalface of service delivery, and was also where climate change was experienced most.

In this regard, he said the Local Government Programme on Climate Change looked at seven technologies which could help municipalities in mitigating and adapting to climate change. These include solar water heaters, solar power, wind power, waste to energy, energy efficiency in municipal buildings and infrastructure, reforestation and greening, and rainwater harvesting tanks.

eThekwini Municipality spokesperson Mandla Nsele said climate change was an unavoidable reality.

Nsele added that even if greenhouse gas emissions were dramatically reduced, the climate would continue to change because of delays in the responses of Earth’s climate system. He said adaptation to the impacts of climate change was essential.

“eThekwini Municipality has adopted a ‘no regrets’ approach to its climate change adaptation work based on community and ecosystem-based adaptation. This is to ensure that projects are beneficial under a range of potential future climate change scenarios,” Nsele said.

In 2015, the council approved the Durban Climate Change Strategy which “seeks to build on the gains made in a number of innovative and award-winning projects such as the Buffelsdraai Landfill Site Community Reforestation Project, as well as a number of eThekwini Water and Sanitation and Durban Solid Waste-managed projects”.

Independent On Saturday