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Chamber to tackle very serious climate change threats

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An assessment on how climate change will impact Nelson Mandela Bay Metropole providee an outlook from 2021-2040, and among the key areas of concern is the potential scarcity of water in the years to come, especially for the increasing number of residents in informal settlements.                                                     Photo:SUPPLIED
An assessment on how climate change will impact Nelson Mandela Bay Metropole providee an outlook from 2021-2040, and among the key areas of concern is the potential scarcity of water in the years to come, especially for the increasing number of residents in informal settlements. Photo:SUPPLIED

“COVID-19 has radically changed the environment in which business operate. Climate change is likely to do the same.”

This is according to Dr Andrew Muir, a well-respected environmentalist who leads the Wilderness Foundation Africa.

The Nelson Mandela Bay Business Chamber has established a business coalition to positively impact the metropole’s response to its projected climate change challenges, highlighting the impact that extreme storm surges, rising sea levels and temperature increases will have on the Nelson Mandela Bay Metropole.

This follows an outcome of its Think Tank initiative which saw Dr Muir being requested to conduct a rapid assessment to assess how climate change will impact the Metropole.

Given his findings, the Chamber has decided to establish an Eastern Cape Climate Change Coalition to be led by Muir. The Business Chamber President Loyiso Dotwana, Chamber CEO Denise Van Huyssteen, Volkswagen South Africa CEO Dr Robert Cisek and Jacques Vermeulen, the CEO of Coca-Cola Beverages Africa, will support him in this role.

Potential collapse of marine life

The study provides an outlook from 2021-2040, and among the key areas of concern is the potential scarcity of water in the years to come, especially for the increasing number of residents in informal settlements. It also delves into the potential collapse of coral reefs and other marine and coastal tourist attractions such as penguin, shark and whale watching, which will negatively impact the tourism and maritime sectors.

“We need to put a multi stakeholder climate task team in place which should comprise participation from the municipality, the provincial government, the university, business stakeholders, youth formations, women groups and others, to address urgently this threat to our metropole,” said Muir.

Some of the proposed action plans include spatial land-use planning which must be adapted to prohibit or restrict new construction or infrastructure along areas predicted to be affected by sea-level rise and or flooding.

Mandatory rainwater harvesting bylaws

It also suggests that the municipality should ring fence vacant land that might be at risk of climate change impacts free from development.

Furthermore, Muir recommends that the Nelson Mandela Bay Business Chamber and the municipality’s initiative of Adopt a Sub-station should be expanded to include other vital infrastructure such as roads and water to limit the impact of infrastructural damage due to storm surges.

Need for more food security

“The metropole must have bylaws related to mandatory rainwater harvesting for all new developments and dwellings. Incentives and guidelines for businesses and homeowners should be in place to enable the reuse and recycling of water wherever possible and to encourage food gardens for food security.

“Additionally, the Baakens River Valley, Swartkops and other river systems in Nelson Mandela Bay must be cleared of all alien vegetation to act as a local carbon sink and natural barrier to flooding events and thereby mitigate damage to nearby built-up areas,” said Muir.

The procurement of local renewable energy will also become essential to reduce the impact of extreme weather events in terms of damage to power grids and other bulk infrastructure. “This also offers the opportunity to grow local businesses and keep local money circulating.”

Muir said the next step would be to engage with the relevant stakeholders and ensure that there is a common understanding of the very serious threat which climate change poses to the province and metrople.

– ISSUED: NELSON MANDELA BAY

BUSINESS CHAMBER

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