Parliament, Saturday, 4 February 2023 – The first leg of the three-day public hearings on the Climate Change Bill in Mpumalanga Province was held in the Gert Sibande District Municipality yesterday, where residents raised concerns about greenhouse gas emissions from a local petrochemical plant and a number of coal power stations in the province.
Gert Sibande District is home to a number of Eskom coal power stations and the Sasol petrochemical plant in Secunda, which are reportedly among the biggest contributors to air pollution in the province and the country. The Portfolio Committee on Forestry, Fisheries and Environment is conducting public hearings on the Bill in the province’s three districts and the first stop was Gert Sibande.
The aim of the public hearings is to solicit citizen’s views on the draft legislation which seeks to enable the development of an effective climate change response and a long-term, just transition to a low-carbon and climate-resilient economy and society for South Africa in the context of sustainable development.
Those who support the Bill hope that, when passed into law, it will help enforce carbon tax to the big polluters of the environment and impose fines to mining companies that fail to close the holes and rehabilitate the land after extracting minerals which pose a risk for flooding.
There was also a feeling that the Bill was very weak on compliance and enforcement, and that the government’s response to climate change needs to ensure that the targets are more ambitious.
The Bill also received opposition from some members of the community who told the committee that South Africa’s economy was not ready for the discontinuation of coal.
They raised a concern that the planned transition from coal in generating electricity to clean energy will take away the livelihoods of many people who are employed in the local coal mines in the province.
The Acting Chairperson of the committee, Ms Nqabisa Gantsho, welcomed the inputs from the community and made a commitment that the complaints about Sasol emissions will be followed up by the committee.
She said: “All the inputs have been recorded and we reassure you that we will come back to Sasol for oversight so that all the issues raised here involving Sasol are fully explained.”
Today the committee is holding public hearings in the Nkangala District Municipality.
ISSUED BY THE PARLIAMENTARY COMMUNICATION SERVICES ON BEHALF OF THE ACTING CHAIRPERSON OF THE PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE ON FORESTRY, FISHERIES AND ENVIRONMENT, MS NQABISA GANTSHO.
For media enquiries or interviews with the committee Chairperson, please contact:
Name: Sakhile Mokoena
Cell: 081 705 2130