The historic Climate Change negotiations that are to take place in Copenhagen are less than two months away and there are still a number of issues that need to be resolved if we are to get a fair, ambitious and binding deal that will have any hope of avoiding catastrophic climate change.
For most people these negotiations are something far removed from their daily lives and many of us feel powerless to influence the global forces that are deadlocking these negotiations. Unfortunately our own government’s recent media statements on the issue have not been particularly helpful by claiming that we will not take on any reduction targets as we have our own development priorities. While I agree with the official negotiating stance that developing countries should not at this stage be forced to take on specific reduction targets, we must avoid creating the impression that we are not willing to take any responsibility for South Africa being the 14th biggest emitter of greenhouse gases in the world.
This must be reflected both in our domestic climate change policies as well as in the attitude of our own citizens. We cannot lament the lack of progress in climate change negotiations if we refuse to find ways of bringing down our own personal carbon footprints. Unfortunately the Deputy Minister of Environmental Affairs has not shown any leadership in this regard through her recent purchase of a 4.8 litre BMW X5 that emits an horrendous 299 g of Carbon Dioxide per kilometre travelled.
The fact that none of the houses in the parliamentary village currently have solar water heaters is a further indication that we are not leading from the front on this issue. I am the first to recognise that there are many areas of my own life in which I can drastically reduce my carbon footprint, but it is a process that I am at least committed to. I think it is high time that all of us, including our leaders, take personal responsibility for reducing our carbon and ecological footprints regardless of the outcomes of the Copenhagen negotiations. In that way at least, we can exert some power in preventing catastrophic climate change.
Lance is Chief Whip of the parliamentary caucus and the National Policy Convenor. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Ed’s note: Read Bending the Curve – Your guide to tackling climate chan