Extreme weather events affect health, lives and livelihoods

sident Cyril Ramaphosa says the extreme weather events that are experienced as a result of climate change affect the health, lives and livelihoods of people in every country, including South Africa.

Delegates from across the world gathered in Glasgow, Scotland for the COP 26 UN Climate Change Conference.

The summit is taking place at a crucial time. Nations of the world urgently need to slow down the rate of global warming and tackle the effects of climate change.

“Adverse weather such as droughts affect our already scarce water supplies, making access to water harder and causing widespread crop failure that threatens our food security,” President Ramaphosa said on Monday.

In his weekly newsletter, President Ramaphosa said polluted air negatively affects human health and that waterborne diseases are more easily spread when there is frequent flooding.

“As a country, we are committed to making our fair contribution to the global climate change effort, and have recently set new and more ambitious greenhouse gas emissions targets.

“At local government level, we need to integrate climate change considerations into service delivery planning,” President Ramaphosa said.

He said a number of municipalities, notably in KwaZulu-Natal, are already piloting the use of different renewable energy sources such as landfill gas to electricity, biomass, biogas and small-scale hydro power.

“Recent amendments to electricity regulations that allow municipalities to buy and generate their own power are expected to lead to a greater uptake of renewable energy technologies over time.

“Beyond energy considerations, we are also working to advance the constitutional right of citizens to a clean and healthy environment,” he said.

President Ramaphosa said air pollution remains a major concern for a number of vulnerable communities, particularly those in close proximity to areas of industrial activity.

“We have improved air quality management over the years, putting norms and standards in place to regulate, manage and control air quality,” the President said.

He said South Africa will affirm its position that developed countries have a responsibility to assist developing countries to adapt to and mitigate the effects of climate change.

“We will continue with our efforts to build resilience in communities, and to harness the potential of the green economy to make a difference in the lives of our citizens and grow our economy.

“We will support the recycling economy by revitalising buy-back centres and integrating waste-pickers into the recycling economy value chain,” the President said.

Through municipal land-use zoning, he said, government is planning to make more land available for agricultural production in communities, including for communal food gardens.

“Environmental conservation and climate action have the potential for new business development and to support job creation on a large scale, including through public employment programmes,” the President said.

President Ramaphosa said under the first phase of the Presidential Employment Stimulus, government supported thousands of beneficiaries in environmental management, sustainable land management and ecosystems conservation programmes.

“Communities that are safer, healthier and climate change resilient are key to our collective future. Even as actions are taken at a national level and decisions made on the global stage, adapting to and mitigating the effects of climate change is our shared responsibility.

“We can all make a difference by making responsible decisions, whether it is by recycling our trash, by choosing sustainable food sources, by conserving water or by keeping our communities clean,” the President said.

Source: South African Government News Agency