Greenhouse gas emissions dominate climate change hearings in Mpumalanga
Residents of Mpumalanga's Gert Sibande district municipality are concerned about greenhouse gas emissions from a local petrochemical plant and a number of coal-fired power stations.
This is according to the parliamentary portfolio committee on forestry, fisheries and the environment which on Friday held the first leg of three-day public hearings on the Climate Change Bill there.
The power stations and the Sasol plant in Secunda are reportedly among the biggest contributors to air pollution in the province and country, the committee said.
“The aim of the hearings is to solicit citizens' views on draft legislation which seeks to enable the development of an effective climate change response and a long-term, just transition to a low-carbon and climate-resilient economy and society for South Africa in the context of sustainable development,” said spokesperson Sakhile Mokoena.
“Those who support the bill hope that, when passed into law, it will help enforce carbon tax on the big polluters of the environment and impose fines on mining companies that fail to close the holes and rehabilitate the land after extracting minerals.
“There was also a feeling that the bill was weak on compliance and enforcement, and that the government’s response to climate change needs to ensure targets are more ambitious.
“The bill also received opposition from some residents, who said South Africa’s economy was not ready for the discontinuation of coal. They raised concern that the planned transition from coal to clean energy will take away the livelihoods of many who are employed in coal mines in the province,” added Mokoena.
Acting chairperson of the committee Nqabisa Gantsho said complaints about Sasol emissions will be followed up.
“All the inputs have been recorded and we reassure you that we will come back to Sasol for oversight so all the issues raised here involving Sasol are fully explained,” she said.
On Saturday, the hearings will take place in the Nkangala district municipality.