Climate change is a concept that has generated much controversy in recent times, the many competing theories as to why climate change is occurring is no longer meaningful and we are now at a stage where unless serious measures are introduced to combat the causes of climate change human kind as a civilisation could be wiped out forever.
As a UCT student and a South African citizen I firmly believe that climate change has mainly been induced by the developed world, however, despite this fact, the responsibilities of combating global change do not primarily lie in the hands of the developed world. Successfully overcoming such a huge problem such as climate change requires the cooperation and willingness of the entire world.
There comes a time where we have to accept responsibility for our actions. That time is now. It is not too late to correct the mistake we have made, however we need less talk and more action.
The policies of mitigation and adaption which traditionally have been the main two policies in combating climate change have proved to be limiting in their effectiveness (Parry, 2009:1-2). For example, achieving current mitigation targets will not prevent major environmental impacts, as in order for mitigation to have any effect in reducing global damage global emission cuts of 80 percent are necessary (Parry, 2009:1). According to Martin Parry the fundamental cause of climate change is unsustainable development, both in the past and the present (Parry, 2009:1).
Sustainable development is therefore pivotal in forming the fundamental prerequisites for combating climate change. Parry further goes on to emphasize the necessity for the implementation of a sustainable development strategy that ‘combines mitigation and adaptation in a whole package of other development strategies, including high levels of efficiency and equity in resource use, investment, governance and income growth’ in order to successfully and effectively confront climate change (Parry, 2009:8).
In response to the article published in the Mail and Guardian on the 10th September 2009; combating climate change will not necessarily stagnate or reduce development. Low carbon economies are effective in creating employment opportunities and bringing about the fundamental prerequisites that are essential for enticing development whilst limiting environmental damage (Winkler and Marquard, 2009:62). Energy efficiency programmes are most effective in reducing emissions with little economic consequence which in a country such as South Africa is desperately needed in order to reduce carbon emissions with little effect on economic development (Winkler and Marquard, 2009:62).
Other ways of reducing emissions as highlighted by Winkler and Marquard include the implementation of non-carbon and reduced carbon energy supplies in the form of hydroelectricity, natural gas and solar power (Winkler and Marquard, 2009:62). However, changing development paths is a very challenging and time consuming process which can be bought about in various ways including; the imposition of carbon taxes, selective beneficiation and incentive programmes for energy-intensive industries (Winkler and Marquard, 2009:62).
Climate change is a global problem that can only be solved through global cooperation and teamwork. The injustices of the past must be forgotten and both the developed and developing world must work together to ensure the immediate and drastic reduction in emissions. Combating global climate change is a long term process that requires extreme dedication and ruthless legislation that will ensure the full cooperation from countries the world over. Economic growth is not the priority anymore; mankind could potentially be on the brink of extinction unless drastic measures to combat climate change are implemented.
‘When the last tree is cut down, the last river poisoned, the last fish caught, then, only man will discover, that he cannot eat money’.