WWF remains concerned after budget speech

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 19 February 2010

While WWF, the conservation organisation, welcomes the tax proposals put forward in Minister Gordhan’s Budget Speech today (17 February 2010), the organisation remains concerned about massive infrastructure spending devoted to coal-based electricity supply.

Gariep Dam is the largest dam in SA. Increasing dam storage capacities is not a panacea to addressing our water challenges. Photo by 'InsideSouthAfrica' under Creative Commons licence 2.0

“We welcome continued reform on taxes that reflect the cost of greenhouse gas emissions to both the environment and society,” says Dr Morne du Plessis, CEO of WWF South Africa. “An emissions tax on passenger vehicles, slightly modified from last year’s proposal, will incentivise a preference for efficient cars.”

While the raising of the fuel levy will no doubt be an unpopular measure, WWF welcomes it. Ideally such revenues should be used in reducing fuel consumption in the country through, for example, increased subsidies for public transport – a measure that would also help protect the poor somewhat from the increasing cost of transport.

“Our national response to climate change is not in contradiction with a focus on poverty reduction and stimulating economic growth. On the contrary, the development and support of the necessary local industries to support a move to renewable energy would create a wealth of green jobs,” said Du Plessis.

“WWF welcomes the increased spending on the maintenance of water infrastructure and, specifically, the crumbling sewage works which are a major source of pollution of our rivers and wetlands. However, while increasing water supply capacity is vital, there is no mention of the amount of funding available for protecting our key freshwater catchments – the source of our water. Increasing dam storage capacities for example is not a panacea to addressing our water challenges if we do not adequately protect those rivers that supply water to the dams in the first place.”

“The environmental sector has yet to really be exploited to drive economic growth, create jobs and, subsequently, reduce poverty,” Du Plessis concluded.

Source: WWF

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