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Midrand threatened by climate change - 3 June 2008

Johannesburg - Midrand is one of the areas under threat by uncontrolled climate change due to its development on wetlands, said City of Johannesburg’s MMC for Environmental Management, Prema Naidoo on Monday.

This he said was because a portion of Midrand was built on wetlands, which act as a sponge in the event of an extended period of wet weather.

In addition to construction on the wetland, developers did not take the historic flood line into consideration.

“Needless to say that this has adversely affected the fauna and flora of this area. It is immediately obvious that the area of Midrand could be susceptible to the forces of nature.

“If this vulnerability is exposed, it is the city which will be most affected by the loss of revenue, associated costs which accompanies natural disasters and most importantly, by the potential loss of lives,” Mr Naidoo told delegates at the two-day City of Johannesburg Mayoral Climate Change Summit, hosted in partnership with the South African Local Government Association, which started on Monday at Nasrac.

Under the theme “All hands on deck: towards a low carbon economy," which ties in with the World Environment Day theme for this year “Kick the habit! Towards a low carbon economy,” it aims to engage local municipalities with delegates from around the world on climate change for the first time.

Also speaking during the summit was Gauteng MEC for Local Government, Qedani Mahlangu.

She warned that climate change posed a big threat to humanity and its most essential basic resources in the 21st century.

“Scientific evidence overwhelmingly shows that if we do not deal with this matter urgently and act decisively, climate change would have a devastating impact on the economy and natural environment especially that of the developing countries like ours.”

Empirical evidence, Ms Mahlangu said has also shown that climate change will aggravate the water stress currently faced by some countries, while other countries that currently do not experience water stress will become at risk of water stress.

She further told the delegates at the summit that another area government had put their efforts in was fuel consumption.

“As a result the automobile industry must focus on alternative fuels such as gas and electricity. This means we need to review the amount of energy used in the value chain process of manufacturing vehicles.”

However, Buffalo City Executive Mayor Zintle Peters said it was evident that the responsibility to deal with climate change lay with all stakeholders.

“As cities, we must recognise that the challenge of using energy more effectively is one that requires champions at city level.

“This is not only because the engagement of local consumers will be most effective at this level if we aim to create positive trends in our demand management, but also because cities have the opportunity to play a leading role in taking the initiative to establish local capacity to generate renewable energy,” Ms Peters.

Johannesburg Executive Mayor, Amos Masondo highlighted that the numbers, the diversity and the quality of participants at the Climate Change Summit reflects “both the importance of the issue of climate change and the realisation that a combined effort from across the spectrum of human activity is required to address this critical matter”.

“The cities and towns are not only concerned with local government environmental conditions, but also equally concerned about global sustainability.

Mayor Masondo further said that the current discussions about alternative service delivery mechanisms in South Africa and the need to renew the associated infrastructure presents an opportunity to introduce a series of environmental friendly technologies and sustainable changes.

By Bathandwa Mbola on BuaNews