Raising the profile of water

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 06 Dec 2011

Efforts to establish water as an agenda item in its own right in climate change negotiations are gaining momentum in Durban, South Africa. Water experts say doing this will lead to a greater focus on developing policy, and attract more resources into the water sector through adaptation programmes.

As rainfall patterns change, Africa is facing major crises

“For every one of us, the first thing you use when you wake up in the morning is water, and when we are going to bed, it is water. Yet, it’s taken for granted,” says Chris Moseki, research manager at the Water Research Commission (WRC) in South Africa. WRC is a member of the Global Water Partnership (GWP) – a global alliance of organisations working on water issues.

Access to water is an urgent issue here in the Southern Africa region, where nearly 100 million people lack adequate access to water. Modelling by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) in South Africa shows the region will become hotter and drier over the next 50 to 100 years, putting farms, industry, domestic water supply and natural ecosystems at risk.

International water experts and policy makers are concerned that planning for changes to water availability is not getting the prominence it deserves. Bai-Mass Taal, the Executive Secretary of the African Ministers’ Council on Water (AMCOW), says they are working to raise the profile of water within the framework of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

“We are saying to the parties, look: we appreciate what you are doing in other sectors, but without addressing water directly, all of that will be in vain,” says Taal. Continue reading

Africa’s water could rescue the continent from climate change

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 28 Nov 2011

The African continent is the most vulnerable to the effects of climate change due to its dependence on rain-fed agriculture but can harness the potential for hydropower, said Minister of Environmental Affairs Edna Molewa on Monday.

Africa currently uses only 10% of its hydropower potential

“The challenge for Africa is to decouple economic and social development from the burning of fossil fuels and deforestation to an extent which has no precedent in the developed world,” said Molewa, who is leading the SA’s negotiation team at COP17 in Durban.

Water shortages caused by climate change threaten agriculture and human health in Africa, she said. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change predicted yields from rain-fed agriculture to shrink by half by 2020.

“This will spell famine for many,” she said.

Water shortages have already affected the agriculture and livestock industries in Kenya, she said, and African nations that currently have water surpluses will shift to water scarcity before 2025.

But Africa’s water resources could also rescue the continent from the effects of climate change in the form of renewable energy, she said. The continent currently uses only 10% of its hydropower potential.

“A national, regional and international effort towards unlocking this potential is an example of how African societies could go from being amongst the most vulnerable to become climate resilient,” she said.

Molewa repeated the SA government’s support of the “polluter pays principle”, imploring developed nations to fund green projects in developing nations, since they are responsible for the majority of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Africa contributes only 4% of global GHG emissions, but SA is responsible for almost half of that.

Molewa also highlighted the Africa Pavilion at COP17, which presents opportunities for green-development projects on the continent.

The effects of climate change on Africa are “unacceptable” and climate-change talks must “produce a credible, fair, equitable and balanced outcome” in the coming weeks.

Source: Business Live

SA aims to boost green economy

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 08 Nov 2011

South Africa will launch an ambitious project aimed at boosting its “green” economy and reducing the country’s carbon footprint during the United Nations Climate Change Conference starting in Durban on 28 November.

The South African Renewables Initiative (SARi), set to be unveiled at the 17th Conference of the Parties (COP 17) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, will seek to catalyse the growth of a “green” industry through the financing of large-scale renewable generation capacity.

“SARi presents a key element in ensuring that South Africa meets the emissions targets set by President Jacob Zuma who, at COP 15 in Copenhagen in 2009, committed South Africa to reducing its emissions trajectory to 34% below business as usual by 2020, and to 42% by 2025,” Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies said last week.

An integral part of South Africa’s Industrial Policy Action Plan, SARi will help to develop capacity in related industries by designing a financial solution to encourage the roll-out of large-scale renewable generation capacity.

South Africa will be looking to use its international partnerships to help the country secure funding to enable an ambitious scale-up of renewables.

The launch of the initiative will be accompanied by the announcement of partnerships between the South African government and international governments and Development Finance Institutions to explore possibilities for further developing the renewables industry.

Davies said an initial design for a financing mechanism had been developed, which combined low-cost loans, insurance and other financial instruments with climate funding on a pay-for-performance basis.

“Success in the large-scale development of renewables could realise direct economic benefits of up to 40000 jobs, contribute up to 15% of South Africa’s Copenhagen Commitment, and decarbonise exports by up to 30% in increasingly carbon-sensitive international markets,” Davies said.

Source: allAfrica.com

Durban Summit progress not inspiring

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 10 Aug 2011

The UN and the South African government are trying to alleviate concerns about the forthcoming Durban Climate Change Summit, after accusations of a “turf war” between the two departments organising the crucial meeting.

Around 15,000 people are expected to participate in the summit

Speaking to reporters late last week, UN conference coordinator Salwa Dallalah told reporters in Durban that preparations for the COP 17 summit remained on schedule. “We are moving very well and are on target,” she said. “We will finish our work soon.”

Her comments follow weeks of speculation among diplomats and green groups that preparations for the talks were not moving fast enough.

Privately some negotiators at the most recent round of UN talks in Bonn in June said the South African government was failing to lay the diplomatic ground work adequately for the crucial meeting, contrasting the preparations for Durban unfavourably with the work undertaken by the Mexican government ahead of last year’s Cancun Summit.

The recent rumours culminated last week in a report in the local Mail & Guardian newspaper, citing South African government sources frustrated by the turf war between the department of environmental affairs (DEA) and the department of international relations and co-operation (Dirco) over who should take responsibility for the summit.

“It’s a mess,” the anonymous source told the paper. “The ministers are fighting, and we don’t even have a website. We are not communicating enough.” Continue reading