Environment, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Barbara Creecy speaking to African News Agency in her parliamentary offices in Cape Town. Creecy says that poor people will be hardest hit by Climate Change. Picture: Jonisayi Maromo/African News Agency (ANA)

Cape Town - Environment, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Barbara Creecy on Thursday said natural resources that sustain millions of families in South Africa are under unprecedented threat from climate change, environmental degradation and the ongoing loss of biodiversity. 

"We know that here, as elsewhere in the world, those living under conditions of poverty and vulnerability will be hardest hit by drought, floods and extreme temperatures. 

"These people will also have the least capacity to adapt to climate change," Creecy told the National Assembly in Cape Town, tabling her department's Budget Vote.

She said South Africa's ambitious blueprint, the National Development Plan requires the current generation to leave future generations "an environmental endowment of at least equal value to the one we have now".

She said no single government department, entity or municipality can achieve that feat alone.

"The work of building a sustainable and environmentally sound growth path is the work of the nation as a whole. It will require all spheres of government, business organised labour and civil society to come together in a programme of joint action. 

"In line with our understanding that our climate change response has to involve all sectors of our society, the second draft of our Climate Change Bill is currently being discussed and debated at Nedlac [the National Economic Development and Labour Council]," the former Gauteng Finance MEC said.

"The bill aims to create a framework to implement the Vision 2039 call for a just transition to a climate-resistant and lower-carbon economy and society. 

"Hence its objectives are to provide a co-ordinated and integrated response to climate change; to provide effective management of inevitable climate change impacts and to make a fair contribution to the global effort to stabilise greenhouse gas concentrations so that economic and social development proceed in an environmentally sustainable manner."

Creecy said the management of waste in South Africa, particularly single-use plastic waste, also requires "our most urgent and pressing attention".

She said the Plastic Bag Regulations and the plastic bag levy are two mechanisms that the government has used to influence consumer behaviour and reduce littering.

The Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries is engaging different stakeholders on the single-use plastic products including plastic carrier bags, straws, earbuds, crockery and cutlery.

African News Agency (ANA)