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Cablegate: South Africa Launches National Climate Change

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 PRETORIA 004530

SIPDIS

FOR OES/PCI/ESHAW, OES/EGC/YOFFE
FOR HARLAN WATSON, SENIOR CLIMATE CHANGE NEGOTIATOR
FOR AF/S/JDIFFILY, AF/EPS
DOE FOR LDOBRIANSKY, DPUMPHREY, RDIXON
NOAA FOR SWARE-HARRIS, RSCHNELL
USAID FOR G/ENV/FMOORE, KBARRETT, EGAT
EPA FOR OIA, OAR JBEALE

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: SENV ENRG EAID TSPL PREL SF
SUBJECT: SOUTH AFRICA LAUNCHES NATIONAL CLIMATE CHANGE
RESPONSE STRATEGY


1. Summary and introduction. Following Cabinet's approval on
October 6, the Department of Environmental Affairs and
Tourism (DEAT) on October 7 formally launched South Africa's
climate change response strategy. At the launch event,
officials noted the urgency with which Cabinet views
responding to climate change. The cross-cutting strategy
involves many government departments and provides a
"framework for action." Departments are developing, or must
soon develop, detailed plans for action and implementation
of the climate change response strategy, although the
strategy sets no deadlines. The strategy balances climate
change response with practical considerations such as
ensuring sustainable economic growth and using locally
available resources like coal. End summary and
introduction.

2. DEAT Director-General Dr. Crispian Olver opened the
presentations with an explanation of the impact of climate
change and areas of vulnerability for South Africa. He
noted the negative environmental and other implications --on
water supply, agriculture/forestry, biodiversity and human
health-- from climate change. He also stressed economic
challenges the country faces in addressing climate change,
in light of its heavy reliance on cheap electric power from
low-grade coal-fired plants. Dr. Olver noted that although
South Africa contributes only 1.7 percent of global
greenhouse gas emissions (number 15 in the world), it has a
higher level on a per capita basis, and its rate of growth
of GHG emissions is 5 percent per annum, so that in 15 years
or so the level of emissions will double. Olver also noted
mitigation efforts underway or planned for a number of
sectors, such as transport, coal mining, agriculture, along
with the Department of Minerals and Energy (DME)'s efforts
to implement a White Paper on Renewable Energy and an Energy
Efficiency Strategy.

3. Dr. Olver described the implementing actions that
different departments of government will undertake in
support of the climate change response strategy. DEAT
intends to optimize waste management to minimize GHG
emissions, to finalize air quality legislation, to put into
place a national ambient monitoring network and information
handling system that incorporates GHG data, and to develop
protection plans for plant, animal and marine biodiversity.

4. The Departments of Water Affairs & Forestry, Agriculture,
Health, Transportation, Trade & Industry, Science &
Technology and the Treasury all will be actively involved in
implementing the strategy. The other key partner in the
strategy is the Department of Minerals and Energy, which was
represented at the launch by Dr. Rod Crompton, Deputy
Director General for Energy.

5. Dr. Crompton noted a number of DME activities and policy
initiatives underway, including: improving energy supply
diversity by developing natural gas; establishing targets
for renewable energy; tapping Global Environment Facility
and World Bank funding to facilitate and subsidize renewable
energy; reducing sulfur content in diesel fuel and requiring
gasoline to be unleaded by 2006; and offering a low-smoke
home cooking fuel program at the community level. At the
international level, Crompton noted South Africa's
participation in the Carbon Sequestration Leadership Forum
and the International Partnership for the Hydrogen Economy
initiatives.

6. Representatives of industry and civil society also made
brief statements at the launch. Dr. John Kilani, Vice
President for Sustainable Development of African Rainbow
Minerals Limited and Chair of South Africa's Executive Board
on the CDM (Clean Development Mechanism). Dr. Kilani noted
that business appreciated the government's efforts on
climate change. He encouraged South Africa to move quickly
on CDM activities because other countries such as Brazil,
India and China are far ahead.

7. Erin Lorimer, representing the Climate Change Action
Network, a group of non-governmental organizations (NGOs),
welcomed the strategy and the government's multi-agency
approach. She also said the NGO community hoped to see more
details of implementation plans soon, as the strategy was
very vague and gave no timeframes for implementation. Ms.
Lorimer also noted that government renewable energy targets
were too low. She encouraged the government to focus on the
social and economic benefits that climate change response
can generate, by stimulating new economic sectors and
industries.

8. In closing comments, Deputy Minister of Environmental
Affairs and Tourism Rejoice Mabudafhasi emphasized the
importance of raising public awareness on climate change and
building capacity to support the strategy. Speaking on "the
way forward," DEAT Deputy Director General Joanne Yawitch
noted that the National Committee on Climate Change,
comprised of government and stakeholders, will help advance
the strategy. Anticipating Russia's ratification and the
entry into force of the Kyoto Protocol, South Africa needs
to be prepared for intensified action on climate change and
possible new targets for developing countries.

9. A question-and-answer period was dominated by queries and
concerns about DME's implementation of the Clean Development
Mechanism. Dr. Crompton noted that DME intends to work with
the Development Bank of South Africa to offer a "hand-
holding" mechanism to assist interested parties to develop
CDM projects.

10. Post will forward a copy of the Climate Change Response
Strategy to OES/EGC. Note: A long-term technical adviser
funded under the USAID-DEAT bilateral drafted the initial
version of the strategy in 2002.

FRAZER

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