HON STEVEN MOODLEY MPL
Members of Parliament,
I was privileged to be part of the Portfolio Committee on the visit to the South Australia (2017) and Mauritius (2018). There were many things that one learnt which our province can copy and adopt for the betterment of our communities.
STUDY TOUR IN AUSTRALIA (CLIMATE CHANGE AND GREEN HOUSE EMISSION)
South Australia is also facing a challenge of climate change which present a tough challenge, particularly in securing a reliable water supply. This is due to the fact that South Australia is the nation’s driest state. This country was the first Australian state to legislate a specific target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, in the Climate Change and Greenhouse Emissions Reduction Act 2007.
Climate change is not a distant threat: it is already costing the people of this country severely. We have experienced many effects of climate change in South Africa where we experienced severe drought which affected most parts of the country, including KwaZulu-Natal. To avoid disastrous effects of climate change, it is imperative that as a country we invest more in renewable energy as it is necessary to protect the environment. Climate change requires a shift in thinking and behaviour by all stakeholders.
Rising sea levels increase the risk of damage caused by storm surges. This in turn exacerbates coastal erosion, with the risk of damage to coastal infrastructure, removal of sediment from beaches and loss of land.
Although, South Africa in particular KwaZulu-Natal is experienced at preparing for and responding to natural disasters, the influence of climate change and extreme weather will place pressure on our capacity to manage these natural calamities.
In 2017, Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions increased for the third consecutive year, reaching all-time highs. To mitigate greenhouse gas emissions, the Federal Government has set in place an initial target to reduce Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions by 26-28% below 2005 levels by the year 2030.
We are aware that President Cyril Ramaphosa released the long-awaited draft of the Integrated Resource Plan (IRP 2018) in August, setting out a new direction in energy sector planning. The plan includes a shift away from coal, increased adoption of renewables and gas, and an end to the expansion of nuclear power.
Therefore, it is vital that all stakeholders support policies and actions that will reduce the emission of greenhouse gases in our country. This further calls for a far greater enforcement and monitoring measures from the government to address air pollution.
South Australia leads the nation with the phasing out of lightweight, checkout-style plastic bags. The ban came into effect on 4 May 2009. As a country we must emulate what South Australia has done. We must do more to address the issue of plastic pollution which has been a perennial problem in our country and a major eye-sore to the South African landscape.
Fifteen years after South Africa tried to ban throw-away plastic shopping bags‚ there is still the lack of progress made by local companies to reduce the torrent of plastic trash flowing into the sea. This is unacceptable and must cease with immediate effect.
South Africa introduced a plastic bag levy in 2004 in an attempt to reduce plastic bag consumption. We appreciate that the government in particular the late Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa indicated that her department was looking at the possibility of reviewing legislation with a view of phasing out harmful plastic products including straws. We also like to commend the South African hospitality giant Tsogo Sun which has joined a small but growing number of businesses to declare war on plastic straws. It will no longer be offering straws at any of the over 100 hotels and 13 entertainment destinations it runs around South Africa. This is an encouragement to other hospitality groups to emulate this noble example and do away with plastic straws.
During the campaign “BeatPlasticPollution” on June 5, 2018, to observe World Environment Day, the UN Secretary-General António Guterres warned that there would be more plastic than fish by 2050 if the present trends continue. It is further evident in the 2017 first-of-its-kind study on plastic pollution conducted by the University of Cape Town’s FitzPatrick Institute of African Ornithology and Marine Research, led by Professor Peter Ryan, which has found that most plastic pollution is derived from local sources.
Again, according to a new report by the UK government office for Science, titled Foresight Future of the Sea, the amount of plastic in the sea is projected to be triple between 2015 and 2025 without any further intervention.
Therefore, the issue of plastic pollution deserves urgent attention and immediate intervention.
WASTE MANAGEMENT AND RECYCLING
The culture to enable residents, businesses and institutions to continue and strengthen their role in implementing zero waste strategies and programs is enforced. Recycling and waste management is prioritised in South Australia; there are many recycling and waste management sites. Material recovery facilities (MRFs) have been established in some municipalities in order to recover recyclables. However, these are hampered by the low rate of recovery of recyclables. Illegal dumping is a huge societal ill that we need to be more responsible about. The role and participation of the public is important to the success of any endeavour, especially municipal solid waste management that affects the environment, economy and human health, and this challenges us to do more to deal with illegal dumping.
MAURITIUS STUDY TOUR
The issue of waste management is similar to South Africa where there are plans to deal with waste management and climate change. Mauritius is becoming one of the most popular destinations for tourists from all over the world looking for a high-end holiday on a beautiful tropical paradise island and this contributes to the high increase of waste generation and it has been projected that waste generation will increase by 50 percent by 2030. Without the integrated waste management strategy and legislation to promote waste reduction and recycling there would be a disaster. To address the issue of climate change, Mauritius has set up a Climate Change Division in 2010 to formulate strategies to address climate change. This has yielded positive results and will undoubtedly have a positive impact in the future.
COASTAL ADAPTATION AND CLIMATE CHANGE
Climate change has a negative effect on the coastal zone of Mauritius as these zones are vulnerable to high sea levels and tropical cyclones. To overcome this, various external funded initiative, and adaptation measures have been implemented. This include measures such as revegetation, sand bags and even concrete structures. But more still need to be done as authorities may need to adapt to new and long-term measures to prevent soil erosion.
Gabion structures which have failed to yield positive results to prevent soil erosion have been replaced by lasting and more efficient concrete walls.
Also, KwaZulu-Natal share a similar problem with Mauritius when it comes to the soil erosion in the coastal zones. Recently, the North Beach lifeguard tower in Durban was reported that it is under threat of collapsing if the eThekwini Municipality does not intervene to replenish the sand lost to erosion. The high tides are eating into the foundation of the building. I think we can emulate what Mauritius has done in protecting its coastal zones.
As such, pre-emptive adaptation planning is necessary to build and sustain provincial’s social, economic and environmental resilience.
NATIONAL PARKS AND CONSERVATION SERVICES
As we have Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife, Mauritius has National Parks and Conservation Services, which is responsible for the management of the country’s native terrestrial biodiversity and its ecosystem. The protection of fauna and flora is prioritised and there are measures in place to eradicate alien species. Invasive alien species spread so prolifically that they threaten our native biodiversity. It is a well-known fact that invasive alien species can spread diseases that do not normally occur here. For instance, a tiger mosquito bite can spread dengue fever. If invasive alien populations are so big they can no longer be caught or eradicated, measures must be taken to stop them from spreading further.
Nature reserves and national parks are not enough to prevent a catastrophic decline in nature. Because of the complex relationship society has with nature, it is obvious that our response to saving it must extend from every possible quarter too. We must do more to defend our national parks from a slew of imminent environmental threats.
All role-players from corporate, government and civil society must partner in ensuring that tangible solutions are sought not just as a preventative or reactive measures but as proactive measures: for a problem that is fast becoming one of the greatest threats to our planet.
I thank you.