Climate change and its effect is a major environmental threat facing the World today. The main concern of climate change is global warming which is based on the 'greenhouse effect'. Smart businesses are beginning to realize that they are members of the wider community and must therefore behave in an environmentally responsible fashion. Sustainable development involves the simultaneous pursuit of economic prosperity, environmental quality and social equity. The long-term cost benefits of sustainable practices, particularly in the areas of energy saving, and in lessening environmental pollution have spin-offs in good public-relations and image-building.
South Africa is a signatory to the Kyoto Protocol which was adopted in December 1997. The protocol committed industrialized countries to reducing their combined greenhouse emissions by at least 5% compared to 1990 levels, in the period 2008 – 2012 (this time period is known as the ‘first commitment period').
The KZN Department of Agriculture and Environmental affairs has established a partnership to encourage energy efficiency and other climate friendly trends in both the supply and consumption of energy. This is done by promoting access to Carbon Equity Centre (Pace) to establish 'Clean Development Mechanisms' (CDMs) Projects. This project is aimed at converting KwaZulu-Natal's potential for energy efficiency, renewable energy and bio- sequestration into enterprises with attached investment and revenue streams.
The benefits of this project will include the following:
Reduction in gas emissions resulting in improved health
Saving in the cost of energy services for the household beneficiaries
The creation of jobs through the manufacturing
Installation of technologies and associated infrastructure.
The Department is in the process of establishing a Climate Change Adaptation Committee (CCAC), which would formulate and implement provincial programmes to mitigate climate change and facilitate adequate adaptation to climate change.
The Department has also commissioned 5 Air Quality Monitoring Stations in Newcastle, Empangeni, Estcourt, Mandeni and Port Shepstone.
Industries demonstrating poor environmental performance especially in the Durban South Industrial Basin and Pietermaritzburg are being targeted to ensure compliance with the new Air Quality Act.