Subject: Top academic slams SA environmental policies
December 04 2006 at 10:37AM
The government's decision to provide massive amounts of cheap electricity to a Canadian aluminium company to set up a factory locally has pushed South Africa into becoming the top per capita emitter of carbon dioxide emissions in the world.
Yet Environment Minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk had not expressed any dismay at this move, instead issuing a statement expounding the virtues of South African's 13 "small projects" to get carbon credits under the Kyoto Protocol.
This was said by Richard Fuggle in his address to mark his retirement as head of UCT's department of environmental and geographical studies.
Fuggle, regarded as the founder of environmental management in SA and the recipient of many awards, held the chair of environmental studies at UCT from its inception in 1973 until last week.
Environmental affairs' departments had remained "Cinderella" departments with ineffectual ministers.
"We still have an incumbent who is a political lightweight and unable to press for environmental considerations to take precedence of 'development'," Fuggle said.
He believed the most serious threat facing the South African environment was complacency. This had not changed in 30 years.
"Collectively, we are unconcerned that our marine resources are being plundered, that we continue to dam our rivers rather than reduce water consumption, that urban sprawl consumes fertile agricultural lands, that private cars are choking our roads, that low-income residential areas are a disgrace. We can't find the money for a public transport system or to improve low-cost housing, unless these are linked to the 2010 football extravaganza.
"Hopes were high that the African National Congress-led government was going to adopt and implement its recommendations, thus giving new life to environmental management in SA. Sadly this never happened," Fuggle said.
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