Protect communities affected by KZN floods: Mbalula

Thursday, May 5, 2022

Minister of Transport, Fikile Mbalula, has emphasised the importance of protecting communities that were affected by the recent floods in KwaZulu-Natal from further devastation, through properly planned settlements, and affordable and safe housing.

“We must continue to build our resilience to the impacts of climate change, through early warning systems, stronger infrastructure, and disaster risk management systems,” the Minister said on Thursday in Midrand.

Addressing the Presidential Climate Commission’s Just Transition Framework multistakeholder conference, he said it was imperative to build back from the catastrophic events in a climate resilient way.

“Our social and economic infrastructure must be made climate resilient in a systematic and forward-looking manner. We live in one of the most affected regions in the world, and frequently experience droughts, storms and floods associated with global warming.

“The recent devastating floods in KwaZulu-Natal put these climate impacts in sharp focus, causing catastrophic loss of life and widespread destruction. Hundreds of people lost their lives. Homes, roads, and bridges were washed away. Public buildings, shops and farms were flooded,” Mbalula said.

He said disasters like those in KwaZulu-Natal are a reminder that it is poorer communities — women and young people, the unemployed, those living in informal settlements, that are most vulnerable to climate change. 

“The science is clear that climate change is happening at an accelerated pace, with profound implications on all aspects of our lives – on rainfall patterns, water resources, crop viability, food security and human health, amongst others.

“The science is also clear that we must keep global warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius, if we want to avoid the worst of climate impacts. To do so, we must reduce greenhouse gas emissions dramatically over the next three decades to reach net-zero emissions by the middle of the century,” the Minister said.

He said developed countries, who have contributed the lion’s share to historical emissions, bear the responsibility of reducing emissions first but noted that all natation’s need to play their part in efforts to mitigate against the impact of climate change

“If we don’t, we will miss out on the opportunities of a greener, more inclusive, and more sustainable economy. In addition, we will face increasing economic risks, as the world shifts demand to low-emissions goods and services.

“The transition will require profound and systemic change across all sectors of our economy. We must decarbonise our electricity grid and modernise the electricity system.

“We must continue to bring more renewable energy capacity online as our cheapest available energy source, and as part of a long-term shift towards a renewables-based power system,” the Minister said.

South Africa needs to install roughly 3 to 4 gigawatts of renewable energy per annum over the next 30 years. 

“At this pace, we can generate sufficient economies of scale for local manufacturers to produce the parts for wind and solar and utility scale batteries.

“This manufacturing can create real jobs — not just intermittent jobs in the installation and construction, but decent permanent jobs linked to large scale manufacturing.

“We must invest in peaking power to provide the energy security that our country so desperately needs,” Mbalula said.

He said South Africa must continue to phase out coal, in a manner that is carefully structured and planned.

“Specifically, this means repurposing and repowering our existing coal plants, and creating new livelihoods for workers and communities most impacted in the change. We must equip our automotive industry for the new opportunities of a cleaner transport system, including electric vehicles.

“We must similarly ensure that our agriculture sector is resilient to the impacts of climate change, empowering the farmers and farm workers at the same time,” the Minister said. –

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