Our Policies/The Efficient Society/
Environment and Energy
At a glance
IN TRUST FOR THE NATION: The DA’s plan for the creation of sustainable opportunities in a low carbon economy.
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The sustainability of the South African economy and our efforts at creating new opportunities for our citizens relies on the sound management of our environment and energy economy for both the current and future generations. South Africa is blessed with rich resources and unique biodiversity. Our environment is however under significant pressure from a growing economy and a rapidly increasing population, as well as climate change and water scarcity. The 2006 State of the Environment Report clearly points to a general decline in the state of South Africa’s environment. This decline will continue to
be the trend unless a truly integrated approach to environmental and energy management is entrenched across all spheres of the State and society.
Protection of the environment goes far beyond conservation. The maintenance of environmental quality, most particularly in the reduction of water, air and soil pollution, is critical for human and eco-system health. The Democratic Alliance’s vision of an opportunity society in which citizens have the money, power and opportunity to develop themselves and pursue their own ends requires a healthy and productive population. Citizens afflicted by poor health due to living
in degraded environments are less likely to be able to seize opportunities and reach their own potential, and they place a heavy burden on the health-care system. A healthy environment, most notably the availability of ample clean water, clean energy and clean air, is critical for winning the fight against HIV/Aids and TB.
Still further, a healthy environment is essential for citizens to seize opportunities to create sustainable livelihoods, including in the tourism sector. A degraded environment not only minimises these opportunities, it actively works against any attempts to alleviate the plight of the most vulnerable people in society. The way we produce and consume energy is intricately linked to environmental health and the creation of opportunity. The threats associated with climate change bring the management of the energy economy firmly into the environmental realm. We need an urgent re-engineering of this sector to realise the low carbon economy. Moving away from the focus of production of electricity by the State the DA believes that appropriate regulations and incentives can create new markets for independent power producers, particularly in the field of renewable energy. Energy security can be improved, our contribution to climate change can be mitigated, the innovation of new technologies can be unleashed, and literally thousands of new jobs can be created.
The DA’s vision of a society for all its people resonates in its response to environmental and energy management. Our history of forced human migration, settlement and bloody conflict has left a legacy of disturbance. In many cases the most vulnerable and disadvantaged citizens have been forced to live in the most degraded environments. Further, access to leisure opportunities, most notably in our protected areas and along our coastline, has been largely inaccessibly to a significant portion of our population. The DA will thus pursue policies that break down barriers that deny South Africans the use and enjoyment of our environment. All South Africans must be able to experience and take pride in our unique history and environment.
Our environment has intrinsic value that requires protection. Its numerous ecosystems provide human society with valuable and free essential services, including the limited amelioration of our pollution, as well as various products that can be used in innovation and wealth creation. Protection of the environment from an economic point of view is the joint responsibility of the State and society. The economy cannot alone be expected to generate the income required to protect the environment. A true understanding of eco-system valuation means that the State has an important role to play in the enforcement of environmental laws. The spirit of responsible, custodial care should be the basic philosophy of the State. Citizens should be empowered to be active and informed in environmental decision-making, while at the same time understanding the role that they can play as individuals as responsible and ethical players in the economy, most particularly with regards to consumption choices and waste minimisation.
Notwithstanding the intrinsic value of our environment, the DA’s approach to environmental management is at all times infused by a vision of a prosperous law-abiding society with a sensibly regulated market economy, an educated and healthy population, and an adequate safety net for the poor.