Climate change won’t wait for bigger budgets

Gerda Moolman, MPL

DA Northern Cape: Spokesperson of Environment & Conservation

The Democratic Alliance will write to acting Premier Grizelda Cjiekella to ascertain the importance prescribed by government towards creating a sustainable environment. In light of the super storm in New York, and increasing climatic and weather related disruptions across the globe, the DA is concerned that a severely restricted budget is affecting the Northern Cape Department of Environment and Conservation’s ability to mitigate the potentially devastating effects of climate change in the province.

According to the AG’s report, the department failed to achieve almost half of its planned targets in the 2011/2012 financial year. The AG conceded that the achievement of certain targets was influenced by external factors that are not within the control of the department. It appears that the primary such factor is limited financial resources. In fact, according to the department, zero climate change mitigation and adaptation projects were implemented due to budget constraints. This is deeply disturbing considering that climate change is expected to result in higher temperatures, more sporadic rainfall patterns and frequent drought which will negatively impact on all sectors of the economy.

The department consistently gets the smallest budget of all provincial departments, receiving less than one percent of the provincial budget, despite it being one of the better performing departments, having received eight consecutive unqualified audits and this year again narrowly missing a clean audit. On top of this, the environmental sector is the only one not to receive a conditional grant. The minimal funding of this department speaks volumes about provincial government’s attitude towards our environment.

It appears that provincial government doesn’t comprehend the fact that without sustainable measures in place to protect our environment, a number of other sectors including our natural heritage, agricultural production, water resources and effectively our economy, are under threat. In fact, focus on the green economy, which could potentially stimulate economic opportunity in a province already ravished by high levels of poverty and unemployment, will also be severely stunted. The DA hopes to secure a commitment by the acting Premier towards greater emphasis on protecting our environment to which we can hold her and her cabinet accountable.

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