Ramaphosa calls for a post-pandemic economy resilient to climate change

President Cyril Ramaphosa says dramatic scaling down of human and industrial activity during the Covid-19 lockdown had been good for the environment and natural ecosystem.
President Cyril Ramaphosa says dramatic scaling down of human and industrial activity during the Covid-19 lockdown had been good for the environment and natural ecosystem.
Image: Sunday Times/Esa Alexander

President Cyril Ramaphosa has called for a new climate-resilient economy as the country rebuilds after the coronavirus pandemic.

In his weekly newsletter on Monday, Ramaphosa said an important aspect of the economy after Covid-19 should be its ability to withstand climate change.

As we work with our social partners to develop an urgent economic recovery programme, we are determined that we should not merely return to where we were before the pandemic struck. We are instead looking at actions that will build a new, inclusive economy that creates employment and fosters sustainable growth.

An important aspect of this new economy is that it must be able to withstand the effects of climate change. A climate-resilient economy is necessary to protect jobs, ensure the sustainability of our industries, preserve our natural resources and ensure food security,” he wrote.

He said the dramatic scaling down of human and industrial activity during the Covid-19 lockdown had been good for the environment and natural ecosystems.

The coronavirus pandemic is devastating, but unless we act now, the affect of climate change on humanity will be catastrophic. Unless we act swiftly to significantly reduce carbon emissions and adapt to the effects of climate change, we will be facing one state of disaster after another for many years to come.

Climate change had long been a measurable reality for SA, with its effects felt in adverse weather conditions, droughts, flooding and rising temperatures.

Ramaphosa said climate change had hit water resources, food security, public health, public infrastructure, ecosystems and biodiversity.

It affects the most vulnerable in society, who suffer the effects of extreme weather events and the degradation of ecosystems. As we work to reduce our carbon emissions, we have to build resilience and reduce the vulnerability of communities to climate change.

It has to be factored into every aspect of government planning, from water use management to the construction of human settlements, from public transport to infrastructure, from disaster management to energy.

The president said every sector of the economy needed to adapt to climate change.

It is to respond to this massive challenge that cabinet last week approved the national climate change adaptation strategy. This strategy will guide one important aspect of our climate change response.

In line with our commitments under the Paris Agreement to Combat Climate Change, we are moving ahead with mitigation strategies to reduce our carbon emissions, and adaptation strategies  to prepare our society for the effects of climate change,” he wrote.

Ramaphosa said work was under way in government and the private sector to respond to climate change, with tangible projects being implemented at national and provincial government levels.

In provinces such as Gauteng and the Western Cape, new low-carbon technologies are being used to power public transport. Thousands of solar water heaters have been installed in public housing. The renewable energy power producer programme plays an important role in increasing the contribution of renewable energy to our electricity supply.

He said as the country built a new economy, it could not afford to be out of step with international moves towards green growth and green development.

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