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South Africa’s Climate Bill out for public comment

The Climate Bill [B9-2022] was formally introduced to the National Assembly by the Minister of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment on 18 February 2022. This iteration of the Bill was first published for information in October 2021, and an earlier version of the Bill was published in 2018. Oceans Not Oil is pleased this Bill has been released for public comment. The aim of the Bill is to ensure that South Africa has the necessary statutory framework to respond to climate change by reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, while preparing the country and its operations to adapt to the effects of climate change.

At first glance, the Bill does needs some work and members of the public are encouraged to send comments.

Some issues within the Bill which require modification include:

  1. Company directors should be held personally liable both for violating their prescribed carbon emissions budget and also for not reducing their carbon emissions meaningfully. This should entail stiff criminal penalties and financial fines.
  2. Major South African corporations should be required to appoint a sustainability officer and have a sustainability plan which must be reviewed annually, lay out clear benchmarks for measuring progress, penalties for not meeting benchmarks and layout in clear terms how they will achieve zero emissions by 2050.
  3. The climate change Bill should enshrine in law that South Africa must reach net-zero emissions by no later than 2050, preferably sooner, in line with the Paris Agreement, and that it must clearly obligate national government to develop sectoral plans to decarbonise our economy, and that these plans have clear benchmarks to be reviewed every 3 years on progress and legal instruments which progressively compel corporations to comply.
  4. All emissions and carbon data collected by government related to the enforcement of the Climate Change Bill by the Environmental Minister be open to the public for review as soon as it is compiled, and the Minister is legally compelled to table annual reports in a coherent manner of the progress made on decarbonising the South African economy, the progress of mitigation and adaptation programs, and that it is accompanied by a list of corporations and individuals of significance who are not complying or in breach of their obligations to comply with the law.
  5. Qualifying products in South Africa be subject to SABS grading measures which clearly indicate their carbon usage, ecological impact and their sustainability profile.
  6. The educational curriculum be adjusted to incorporate a module in each year of learning on Earth Sciences, climate change and ecological breakdown.

Ensure your voice is heard by directing your written submission to: climatechangebill2022@parliament.gov.za

Any further enquiries can also be sent to the administrative officer Ms T Madubeka at tmadubela@parliament.gov.za or on 083 709 8401.

The Bill can be found at this link or at https://www.gov.za/documents/bills

Comments are to be received by the Department no later than Friday, 27 May 2022.

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