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Climate Change Conference Promotes Public Understanding
7 August 2008
Climate Change Conference Promotes Public Understanding - 7 August 2008
The newly established Fynbos Foundation, in association with the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University and the Nieman Society of South Africa, recently hosted a climate change conference at Kirstenbosch that saw global climate change experts and journalists gather to promote public understanding of climate change and its social consequences.
During his opening address, Minister of Environmental Affairs and Tourism, Marthinus van Schalkwyk, stated that climate change was now unavoidable and that its impacts on South Africa's conservation and tourism sectors could be shattering. "The longer we delay taking action, the greater the mitigation and adaptation costs will be. These costs are not only measured in percentages of GDP or loss of habitat or species, but most importantly in terms of the millions of human lives that are at risk," said van Schalkwyk. He further stressed the importance of avoiding the unmanageable impacts of climate change through a global response and that world leaders, in particular the largest historical polluter, the United States of America, will soon need to show if they are ready to rise to the challenge.
South Africa faces a difficult decision relating to its own efforts to reduce emissions in order to mitigate the effects of climate change. The results of a study on how the country can mitigate the long-term impacts of climate change was presented to cabinet this month, providing options for South Africa to move away from its heavy reliance on coal for energy generation towards establishing a low-carbon economy with a much greater energy mix derived from non-fossil fuels. Changing the economic model is, however, a big ship to turn. A clear message that stemmed from discussions at the conference is that the country needs a greater sense of urgency regarding climate change, and that civil society needs to persuade and pressurise government to pursue particular environmental policies.
Visit www.fynbosmedia.co.za/foundation.php for more information on the conference.