Gauteng Climate Change Summit focuses on innovation and sustainability - 22 November 2023

Office of the Premier 2023/11/22 - 22:00

Christopher Sello

As South Africa's economic hub, Gauteng stands as a significant contributor to carbon emissions and is not immune to the impacts of climate change. 

Recognising the imperative for a Just Transition, society must actively commit to climate action.

In response to this critical need, the Gauteng Department of Agriculture, Rural Development, and Environment (GDARDE) hosted the Gauteng Climate Change Summit in collaboration with the Thabo Mbeki African School of Public and International Affairs.

The two-day summit, held under the theme "Towards Decarbonization of the Economy and Building a Climate-Resilient Society," highlighted innovative initiatives companies undertake, primarily focusing on minimising greenhouse gas emissions and embracing environmentally friendly practices. 

MEC for GDARDE, Mbali Hlophe, in her opening remarks on Wednesday, emphasised the tangible impact of climate change on Gauteng, the nation, and the globe.

"The threatening consequences of this crisis are evident daily, threatening our economies, our infrastructure, and the very fabric and wellbeing of our societies," said Hlophe.

Premier Lesufi, delivering a keynote address, stressed the need to prioritise climate change as a top economic agenda. His vision includes fundamentally redesigning the automobile sector's infrastructure and incorporating new vehicles and energy charging stations by 2030.

"The road infrastructure must change, the traffic lights must change, it means the tire must change, and we must incorporate all those particular changes. We want your ideas to assist us to move towards that particular direction," urged Premier Lesufi.

He added, "The net zero commitments in decarbonising our environment and many other things are a reality that we need to put as part of our plans." 

Beyond showcasing local climate action, the summit aims to illustrate how businesses in Gauteng are actively mitigating greenhouse gas emissions and adapting to a changing climate. 

GDARDE has initiated a greenhouse gas (GHG) inventory to comprehend the province's carbon footprint in response to Gauteng's pivotal role as an industrial powerhouse. 

Gauteng calls upon society to commit to meaningful action in its journey towards a Just Transition. 

The department, recognising the need for accurate data, has appointed a specialist environmental consultancy firm to complete the GHG inventory by the second quarter of the next year.

Chief Director for Environment Management, Loyiso Mkwana, has highlighted the significance of this initiative, stating, "The last inventory for Gauteng was conducted in 2010.

Since then, emissions may likely have developed differently than expected due to increased industrialisation and possible disruption of existing emission-reducing initiatives."

Currently managing 104 climate change-related projects, GDARDE actively promotes a low-carbon economy and climate resilience. 

Among these initiatives is the 2015 launch of the Gauteng Industrial Symbiosis Programme, which involved 1,400 companies and resulted in a substantial 1500-tonne reduction in GHG emissions. The program contributed to emission reduction and generated significant savings in water and other natural resources.

Gauteng Province has further demonstrated its commitment to climate action by establishing the Premier's Expert Advisory Committee on Climate Change. 

Comprising members from the government, private sector, research institutions, and non-governmental organisations, the committee guides and accelerates the implementation of the Gauteng Climate Action Plan. It also provides expert advice on elements of a Just Transition pathway for the Gauteng City Region.

As Gauteng intensifies its efforts to combat climate change, combining a dynamic climate summit, initiating a GHG inventory, and ongoing climate projects underlines the province's commitment to a sustainable and resilient future.

By integrating innovation and environmental responsibility, Gauteng positions itself as a leader in addressing climate challenges, not just locally but on the international stage. 



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