South Africa wants Kyoto Protocol extended

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 23 April 2011

South Africa, which will host the next round of United Nations (UN) climate change talks in Durban in November, said on Wednesday that the Kyoto Protocol should be extended.

Durban cannot be the death of the Kyoto Protocol

South African environment minister Edna Molewa told the media at the South African parliament in Cape Town that South Africa does not want the 17th Conference of the Parties (COP 17) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change to be the end of the Kyoto Protocol.

The South African government views continuation of the protocol as critical, the South African Press Association (SAPA) reported her as saying.

The Kyoto Protocol is a 1997 international agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The first commitment period of the agreement expires in 2012.

COP17 aims to build on agreements reached during COP 16 in Cancun, Mexico. It also hopes to establish a new global climate change regime. Continue reading

Flooding raises food security concerns

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

Thousands of hectares of agricultural land and crops have been damaged by floods and heavy rains in parts of southern Africa, and more damage may occur in the coming weeks  if above normal rains persist.

Localized crop losses are reported in Mozambique. Photo: IRIN

This is raising concern about the food security of the affected population in the poorer parts of the sub-region over the coming months.

With the rainy season still only half way through, and with the cyclone season due to peak in February, several agricultural areas along the rivers in southern African countries remain at high risk of flooding, including portions of Botswana, Lesotho Mozambique, Namibia, Zambia, Zimbabwe and South Africa.

Food insecurity already critical

“Food insecurity levels are already critical in the affected areas of some of these countries and floods will only further worsen the ability of poor farmers to cope and feed their families in the coming months,” said Cindy Holleman, FAO [Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations] Regional Emergency Coordinator for Southern Africa. FAO is working with regional and national early warning systems to monitor the evolution in major river basins and to assess the impact on food crops. Continue reading

No climate change consensus at BASIC meeting

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 27 July 2010

A meeting of the BASIC group, formed by Brazil, South Africa, India and China, ended on Monday without consensus on a unified plan to deal with the global climate change.

The group, which met in Rio over the weekend, tried to reach a common ground on the maximum limit of carbon emissions for developing countries, to be presented to the upcoming UN Climate Change Conference, which will take place in Cancun, Mexico, in November.

As they failed to reach a common ground, the four countries decided to hold another meeting in Beijing in October. According to Brazilian Environment Minister Izabela Teixeira, the countries expect to achieve a convergent position at the Beijing meeting so they can work together in Cancun.

In Beijing, the BASIC countries will discuss the impacts of the carbon emission reduction on the economic development of developing countries.

Teixeira stressed that the Rio meeting is the first talks attended by technical personnel from the BASIC countries.

The minister also highlighted the transparency of the conversations and the presentation of concrete figures on each country’s situation.

Source: Xinhua

South Africa prepared for 2010 ecological impact

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 02 June 2010

Like any major fixture involving large crowds of people and infrastructure there is a cost: the environmental impact. One feasibility study found that the 2010 event will generate a staggering 2.8 million tons of carbon emissions, largely due to the long-haul air travel. This is nearly 10 times the amount produced during the 2006 World Cup in Germany.

Soccer 2010 event will generate 2.8 million tons of carbon emissions

South Africa has faced up to its ecological obligations by taking a number of measures to limit these impacts. Clearly that not only makes good sense from an environmental perspective, but also from a reputational one.

The national Green Goal 2010 Programme was launched last November, with all of the nine host cities pledging their support. The programme being led by the Department of Environmental Affairs and the Local Organising Committee (LOC) of the World Cup is modelled on the 2006 Green Goal initiative in Germany.

World Cup Local Organising Committee CEO, Danny Jordaan, has said that the green initiative will focus on limiting the event’s impact on the environment, as well as general environmental improvement of the host cities in the form of waste management, water conservation and the planting of trees.

The City of Cape Town launched its own Green Goal 2010 Action Plan in October 2008. As part of this plan, the first phase of the integrated rapid transit (IRT) system will be in place for the start of the World Cup, while a new bicycle and pedestrian route is also being constructed around the stadium as part of the larger non-motorised transport network.

Other greening measures include biodegradable packaging for takeaways, separate bins for recyclable and non-recyclable litter at the fan parks and stadiums, installation of water-saving devices at stadiums and the promotion of non-motorised transport.

These are all worthwhile and commendable initiatives, but probably the single biggest environmental concern of the World Cup remains the carbon footprint. The government aims to try minimising this by encouraging visitors to cycle or make use of public transport, while also launching carbon offset programmes.

Nevertheless the World Cup will have a huge carbon footprint. WWF encourages all visitors to act responsibly by using water sparingly, buying local products and using public transport.

Visitors to South Africa’s famous winelands should support wines from farms that are members of the Biodiversity and Wine Initiative which works to conserve the Cape Floral Kingdom.

The World Cup provides the opportunity for thousands of people to fall in love with our beautiful nation. We hope that visitors enjoying our country’s many national parks and nature reserves will consider donating money back into conservation.

Source: WWF South Africa

Water: A Looming Crisis?

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 04 May 2010

South Africa is one of the driest countries in the world and its water sources are far from its biggest economic centres.

Business Leadership South Africa and the Centre for Development and Enterprise convened a Round Table discussion on 2 November 2009 to examine the state of the water sector in South Africa, probe the reasons for its problems, and explore some solutions.

The report was issued in April 2010 and the following are some extracts from the report.

Rainwater Harvesting by Water Rhapsody

South Africa’s fresh water is limited, and unevenly distributed, so different parts of the country tend to experience shortages at different times, and with varying degrees of severity….Depending on the area, demand needs to be reduced by between 15 and 30 per cent, so water conservation is very important. Implementation will be very challenging, because demand management measures are spread over many institutions, municipalities and households. Without this, we will face water restrictions during the next drought. – Johan van Rooyen Director of National Water Resource Planning, Department of Water Affairs

South Africa faces growing constraints on the availability of water. Many of its river basins are effectively closed, meaning that no additional consumptive water use is feasible within those basins. There is a point where an inability to access water limits development, resulting in economic growth competing with social expansion. Sasol has a relatively large demand for an assured supply of water, but this can’t be at the expense of other users. – Martin Ginster Environmental advisor, Sasol

Once industries understand their water footprint, they need to establish what they can do to meet the water needs of the people in the areas in which they operate. This could include the harvesting of rainwater, which some countries now require from industries. National strategies have to take these issues into account, as well as the fact that people will continue to stream to our cities. – Percy Sechemane Chief executive, Rand Water

More than 90 per cent of municipalities are unable to meet the water quality standards for discharges from their waste water treatment plants (WWTPs), causing pollution hot spots and widespread health risks. Given our sound legislation and good policies, how have we got into this state? The ultimate cause is the erosion of water quality management. – Jenny Day Director, Fresh Water Unit, Department of Zoology, UCT

Read the full report