|Blog - Ecology & Cycling|
‘Going Green’ is the latest buzzword as government, industry and individuals try to manage climate change in the move towards a green economy.
Durban is set to host the COP17 meeting of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) from 28 November to 9 December 2011. The UNFCCC is an international treaty arising from the UN’s conference on Environment and Development. The treaty aims to stabilise greenhouse gas emissions to minimise their impact on the earth’s climate. The Conference of the Parties (COP) is the governing body of the Convention, and advances implementation of the Convention through the decisions it takes at its annual meetings since 1995. In 1997, the Kyoto Protocol was introduced with binding obligations for developed countries to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.
In the build up towards COP17, the South African Department of Agriculture, Environmental Affairs and Rural Development (DAE&RD) has embarked on a series of pre-COP17 seminars and roadshows engaging with the various sectors to highlight issues around environmental management in an effort to reduce global warming.
The third pre-COP17 seminar themed “Climate Change - Our World in Our Hands” was held on Monday 20 June at the Olive Conference Centre in Durban. Several issues were discussed, including the likely impacts of climate change on the agricultural and natural resources, health and welfare, and infrastructure and transport sectors; each sector’s response plan to manage the effects of climate change; and how these sectors can contribute to the green economy.
“Due to climate change, KwaZulu-Natal will experience increased rainfall while the West Coast of South Africa will experience a decrease in rainfall. The intensity, frequency and duration of rainfall will become increasingly unpredictable. By 2050 South Africa will face significant increases in temperature. The agricultural community will need to take this into consideration when planting crops,” says Haroon Karodia, Chief Director of Environmental Management at the DAE&RD.
“Our focus is on raising awareness. We are urging individuals to start thinking about mitigating and adapting to climate change. Industry has to act now in terms of reducing their carbon dioxide emissions. Adaptation (we know what is coming – how are we going to adapt to that) and mitigation (reducing our emissions) are key factors in this regard,” he explains.
Amongst the suggestions proposed at the seminar for climate change adaptation and mitigation was the use of bicycles to get to work and no VAT on bicycles. News reports confirm that Durban is set to become a great cycle city. Plans are underway to establish a circuit corridor loop that links the Green Hub at Blue Lagoon, the Greenside (a greenery oasis that occupies the Durban beachfront site adjacent to the Suncoast Casino that formerly housed the Natal Battery Command) and the ICC/Durban Exhibition Centre. The route showcases sustainable transport, renewable lifestyles and encourages street level interactions and accessibility during the UNFCCC.
The city aims to have Metro officers patrolling the beachfront on electric bikes and other city staff will help “lead the way” in commuting, deliveries, and inter-CBD transport.
A community based organisation called Cycles 4 Social Justice (C4SJ) has recently been formed with the aim of promoting cycling as sport and transport in South Africa. The organisation will host bicycle maintenance and ‘Art Technology in Action’ workshops at the Sustainable Living Exhibition taking place during 2-4 September 2011 at the Durban Exhibition Centre.
According to global perspectives, the argument is that only a certain level of carbon dioxide ought to be present in the atmosphere. Developing countries are calling for a common but differentiated responsibility (CDR) in managing climate change. They want to be allowed to increase their emissions at present and later decrease them, so as to improve living standards by ensuring poverty alleviation and food security. In contrast, developed countries are called on to reduce their emissions with immediate effect.
The seminar highlighted the need to work towards a green economy to contribute to sustainable development. The nature of a ‘green economy’ sought after by a developed or developing nation can vary greatly, depending on its geographical confines, its natural resource base, its human and social capital, and its stage of economic development. What does not change however are its key tenets – of targeting improved human well-being and social equity, whilst reducing environmental risks and ecological scarcities.
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Last Updated (Wednesday, 22 February 2012 11:00)