Education Research on Topic of Environmental Sustainability and Resilience in South Africa

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This is the discussion of environmental sustainability and resilience objectives. They have been discussed in a manner that places each objective as a sub-topic, where answers of the three questions are answered under each objective sub-topic, which are their feasibility, current state of progress with each objective and the challenges which are a stumbling block between the policy time targets and actual results. South Africa’s National Development Plan policy states the objectives for 2030 as far as environmental sustainability and resilience chapter is concerned as one which pictures the country with the following by 2030:

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a) A complete set of pointers for minerals, along with a publication of annual reports health matters concerning minerals which informed the policy (Department of The Presidency, 2011: 67).

This seem feasible enough considering the minerals in question are already identified and the damage they cause to the environment is measurable and ways of reducing its negative effects have been identified and we are in the process of getting businesses to comply or pay a fine whenever in breach with acceptable levels of carbon footprint, found to be using poor waste management systems which leave community members with polluted water and air which results to sicknesses.

Currently, there is a health and safety programme which is meant to ensure safety mining of minerals and healthy working conditions. Since this programme started there has been a 25% reduction on occupational illnesses reported by mining sector and the department has placed 38 trained inspectors in regional offices to monitor the compliance. The reports on compliance on sustainable use and management of minerals has not been started yet, while compliance with steps aimed at reduction of state environmental liability and financial risk was sitting at 100% by end of 2017.

We can say that poor management due to lack of experience and clear guidelines on these measures is a biggest element hampering progress as far as this objective is concerned (Department of Mineral Resources, 2017: 33).

b) Absolute reduction of amounts of waste disposed to landfills each year (Department of The Presidency, 2011: 67).

This objective is the most realistically achievable with a good implementation plan. It is easy to understand and identify when not met, easy to make laws for and to track down compliance.

There has been a reduction of waste disposed to landfill since 2011. In 2011, 90% of 108 million of tonnes of waste was disposed of to landfill, while in 2017 only 75% of 111 million tonnes is still disposed to landfill. This reduction is not at a pace required if South Africa plans to reach its 2030 objective. It is actually sitting at 1. 1% after 6 years, which a very slow pace. The biggest stumbling block to this is urbanisation, since it puts strain on limited infrastructure available for solid waste management in the metro municipalities (Solid Waste Management, 2017).

c) 20 000MW of contracted renewable energy (Department of The Presidency, 2011: 67).

This objective seems not reachable by 2030 considering the delays of signing contracts with suppliers of renewable energy by Eskom. With political will, a turnaround can be seen but the past proves this not to be the trend in Africa.

Engineering News (SA Falling Behind, 2018), reports South Africa currently has the capacity to produce 2094MW of wind energy and 1450MW of solar energy. There is also a nuclear energy station by Eskom which has an 1830MW capacity currently. Even though there are reports that South Africa has a lot of untapped renewable energy sources, including wind which has a potential of pricing energy at 6700GW if the wind farms could be installed across the country. These reports are by World Wide Fund for Nature, and they continue to deem South Africa a failure in solar energy, even though the sunshine here should have been taken advantage of. The biggest blockages with these objectives is political interference which blocks policy uncertainties (SA Falling Behind, 2018).

d) An achievement of a certain amount of land under state protection (Department of The Presidency, 2011: 67).

Considering South Africa has not even met its five-year goal of 2. 7 million hectares which was supposed to be a quarter of planned target for 2030, it does not seem to be feasible as the plan suggests to meet this objective with its figures.

By 2016, Two Oceans Aquarium reported only the protected oceans so far count for less than 0. 5%, while protected land counts for 8%, even though the target is 15% (Lockhart, 2016).

The most challenging feature with implementation of this plan has been high prices of land acquisition. Another challenge is information gap that exists about data on already protected land and that which is targeted (South Africa, 2008).

e) An entrenchment of economy wide carbon-price (Department of The Presidency, 2011: 67).

Considering the burden of this price is aimed to put pressure to suppliers in the industries responsible for polluting the air, this is supposed to cause these suppliers to invest in new technologies which mitigate the level of carbon to the acceptable one or at least that they can afford to pay for. This should then make it feasible.

The implementation of Carbon Tax Bill is set to start 1 January 2019 (Sweet, 2018), which provides for a levy of R120 per ton of carbon dioxide equal to greenhouse gas releases. The taxpayers have however been provided with a relief in a form of a performance allowance not exceeding 5% of greenhouse gas emissions for those suppliers who take extra measures to reduce the emissions (Department of National Treasury, 2018: 15-19).

The reason for the delay is that South Africa’s economy relies a lot on energy while it has limited access to substitute energies which contain low carbon dioxide, thus the impact this tax is going to have on business as a whole had to be examined before its implementation (Sweet, 2018).

f) Zero emissions building standards (Department of The Presidency, 2011: 67).

-The feasibility of low-carbon buildings lies on the awareness of citizens, access to alternate sources of low-carbon energies, support for businesses and skills which build either appliances or buildings less reliant on high-carbon energies; etc. Considering all these alternatives provide for cost-effective energy usage for both businesses and households, sufficient focus on its promotion makes it feasible. According to Theron (2018), South African big cities which are Durban, Johannesburg, Cape Town and Tshwane are in the process of building low-carbon buildings in response to C40 South Africa Buildings programme. The programme is funded by Children’s Investment Fund Foundation as a way of investing into the future of generations expected to make above 70% of country’s population expected to live in cities by 2030. By reducing the energy usage in cities by then, a huge increase in energy usage is expected to be achieved since energy on its own makes about 25% of greenhouse gas emissions by South African cities. Above 230 buildings have been approved for Green Star South Africa sustainable building system (Theron, 2018). Cilliers & Euston-Brown (2018: 6) says this objective would have been achieved with ease if it was not for the number of challenges the cities are facing. The first one difficulty in enforcement of building requirements due to staff and funding capacity. The second one is requirements for low-carbon buildings have to relate existing cities’ goals which are to combat poverty and decrease unemployment in order to gain political favouritism. The last one is lack of data and capacity for analysing existing buildings’ performance and motivating for low-carbon buildings (Cilliers & Euston-Brown, 2018: 6).

g) Bigger investments in new research, agricultural technologies, development of revision strategies for expansion of commercial agriculture and promotion of rural livelihoods (Department of The Presidency, 2011: 67). -The ongoing instability caused by climate change makes it difficult for agriculture to attract new investments in South Africa. The draught affecting both plants and poultry, makes it not feasible to meet this objective at planned levels. The current new land expropriation without expropriation bill is also pushing away new investments in commercial farming. Creamer (2017:1) states the Land Bank has set a target of R1 billion for 2017 to 2018 for the promotion of Black commercial farmers, which is 33,3% of the whole budget of the Land Bank towards the support of agriculture for this period. There are also loans which amount to R39 billion by the bank so far, R2. 5 billion of which accounting for Black investors (Creamer, 2017:1). Reports of an increase in income from primary agriculture by 12. 7% from 2015 to 2016 and by 10. 2% by June 2017 have been published. This has been said to be partly due to increased investment in farming capital assets by 8% from 2015 to 2016, and by 11. 2% by end of June 2017. This increase includes gross investment in fixed improvements which amounted to 17. 4% in 2016 and 5. 6% by June 2017. The total farming debt in the year increased by 8. 9%. The value of exports in agricultural products increased by 13. 7% in 2016 and 17. 4% in 2017 as a result (Department of Agriculture, forestry & fisheries, 2017: 1-11). Implementation of transformation policies like land reform have become a biggest stumbling block towards increasing investment in agriculture. They have taken a lot from agriculture budget, which could have gone straight to investments increasing agricultural output and income. The implementation of these policies have not given birth to results equal to the implicit costs they have taken whereas the supposed results were the increase in economic growth from this industry due to the balance of assets. This land reform policy on its own scared new investments away from White farmers, just like the land expropriation without compensation proposed policy does. The fact that South African farmers who entered the sector after 1994 had poor financial supports as opposed to prior 1994 and other countries they are competing with; agricultural production costs are way higher in South Africa than in other countries, which is discouraging for new farmers and existing farmers if they need to expand (The Conversation, 2015).

h) Achieve the peak, highland and decline trajectory for greenhouse gas emissions with the highest level achieved in 2025 (Department of The Presidency, 2011: 67). -With enough dedication in following through with steps, evaluation of annual performances with an intention to actively identify slacking areas, the causes behind and a commitment to realistic turn-around strategies; this objective is achievable. According to Climate Action Tracker (2018), South Africa’s gas trajectory productions level are expected to rise by 74% in 2020 and 90% in 2030 based on 1990 levels, meaning the current state indicates it is possible to reach the set goals, even though not by 2025 set by the country in its NDP policy. It is said that the biggest contributor to this underachievement is the slow economic growth in the country and the stalling of Eskom to sign the contracts with suppliers of renewable energy. This has had a negative effect on renewable energy capacity targets if we only focus on environmental results (Climate Action Tracker, 2018).

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