South Africa must take advantage of increasingly more affordable renewable-energy technology, says Environment, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Barbara Creecy.
Delivering her department’s budget last week, she said the department needed to invest in essential research and development to create new business and skills.
The department has been allocated R7.5 billion in 2019/2020 and it will grow to R8.3 billion in 2021/22.
Ms Creecy said more than two million South Africans depended on natural resources, and most of them were their families’ breadwinners.
“Almost 900 000 South Africans work in agriculture, 600 000 depend on fisheries and activities linked to our oceans and almost 400 000 rely on various aspects of the bio-diversity economy,” she said.
Ms Creecy also noted that it was the poor who were often hit hardest by the effects of climate change.
“‘Droughts, floods and extreme temperatures affect the vulnerable the most and they find it hardest to adapt,” she said, adding that South Africa was among the world’s top-30 driest countries.
The department, she said, would submit its first voluntary report on the progress the country had made on the Sustainable Development Goals set by the UN General Assembly in 2015.
Ms Creecy said climate change needed a response from all sectors of society. The second draft of the Climate Change Bill is being discussed and debated at the National Economic Development and Labour Council (NEDLAC).
At an earlier press briefing, Ms Creecy spoke about recent whale entanglements in False Bay that saw her department temporarily suspend exploratory fishing for
octopus. Permit operators were already retrieving fishing gear, she said.