Cabinet hails green economy partnership

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Pretoria - Cabinet has commended South Africa's labour, business and civil society for partnering with government in signing the Green Economy Accord, which it said strengthened the country's position leading up to the Durban COP17 conference next week.

The Accord, signed on 17 November, aims to create 30 000 jobs in the green economy sector in the next 10 years and has the backing of the three labour federations in the country - whose joint memberships have more than two million workers - including the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu), Federation of Unions of South Africa (Fedusa) and National Council of Trade Unions (Nactu).

Some of the key points in the Accord include government's commitment to install one million solar water heaters by the 2014/15 financial year; procuring 3 725 MW of renewable energy for use in the grid by 2016 - more than the energy usage of Cape Town, and committing business to develop benchmarks in support of the National Energy Efficiency Strategy.

The Industrial Development Corporation will provide funding of up to R25 billion for investments in the green economy over the next five years.

It comes as thousands begin to descend on Durban ahead of the UN-led 17th Conference of the Parties (COP 17) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) that will be held from 28 November to 9 December.

It's expected that between 15 000 and 20 000 people will attend the talks.

Speaking to reporters on Thursday, Cabinet spokesperson Jimmy Manyi said government was calling on all South Africans to play their part by wearing green for the duration of the conference.

With relative progress having been achieved in a similar meeting in Mexico last year, expectations are high for the talks in Durban to usher in an equitable and legally binding international agreement to deal decisively with the threat of global climate change. Leaders will also have to find ways of dealing with the issue of the Kyoto Protocol, an international climate treaty that is due to expire next year.

The conference comes at a time when Cabinet had just approved the National Climate Change Response Policy White Paper. The policy spells out priority areas South Africa should look at in terms of cutting emissions.

The University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) has been identified as the site of this year's COP17 alternative space, known as the 'People's Space', where national and international civil society will come together to discuss the global issue of climate change.

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