Environment minister Barbara Creecy surprised at her mining role

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Environment minister Barbara Creecy surprised at her mining role

Post by Lisbeth » Wed Oct 02, 2019 2:24 pm

By Ed Stoddard• 2 October 2019

Barbara Creecy was surprised to find out that many of the mining appeals she hears are from companies that have had their mining rights rejected by the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy on environmental grounds. That at least suggests that oversight mechanisms are working.

Barbara Creecy, who became environment minister in May, expected that in the mining space she might spend a lot of her time dealing with conservationists opposed to the issuing of mining permits. She was in for a surprise.

“What comes to me are the appeals,” she told Business Maverick on the sidelines of the 10th annual Oppenheimer Research Conference in Midrand, which is focused on conservation.

Some quick background is in order here – the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy (DMRE) issues mining permits after various regulations have been followed by an applicant, including environmental impact assessments, known as EIAs. If someone is not happy with that decision, they can appeal to Creecy’s department.

“What’s interesting is that I deal a lot with appeals from mining houses that have been refused rights by DMRE. Often they have been refused because DMRE has concerns regarding the EIA. It’s quite interesting being the appeal authority, because when I came in my assumption was that all appeals were from people who did not want mining licences issued.”

There are also appeals of course from groups opposed to mining on various grounds. These include communities, heritage authorities and conservationists. But the mix of appeals was much wider than she anticipated.

“If everyone’s unhappy, the system’s working,” she said with a laugh. It certainly does suggest that the oversight mechanisms appear to be working, through Creecy did not disclose any details about specific cases.

Asked if she believed, as environment minister, that any more coal mining permits should be issued given the concerns about the links between fossil fuel usage and climate change, Creecy was frank.

She admitted that in the case of a developing economy such as South Africa’s, the transition to a low-carbon economy is not going to take place as fast as many environmentalists would like.

“It’s very important that we understand that mining contributes 7.5% to our GDP and 30% to our foreign exchange earnings and we have a balance of payments deficit. When we look at that trajectory to a low carbon economy we have to be absolutely clear that that process has to happen in a responsible manner and it can’t be an overnight process,” she said.

A former MEC of finance for Gauteng, Creecy understands the long-term consequences of a worsening balance of payments deficit. The worst-case-scenario can include a complete blowout of the rand and the IMF bailout that many commentators have warned may be looming. That would also push conservation issues far down the public agenda.

On the wildlife front, Creecy said it was vital for the African nations that are the custodians of the world’s last great megafauna populations, to derive benefit from that wildlife. At the recent triennial CITES conference on the global trade in endangered species, a proposal led by Botswana and Zimbabwe to loosen the ban on the ivory trade was shot down. This led Zimbabwe to say it was considering withdrawing from CITES altogether.

“It’s not in any of our interests to have a breakdown of the multilateral system and when countries get to the point that they are even informally suggesting that they would want to withdraw from a multilateral system, that can only be bad news for global governance and in this particular instance bad news for conservation,” Creecy said.

This year she will be chairing the grouping of African environment ministers and said one of the things she wants “to get going is a dialogue. How do we make sure that the countries which are the major custodians of elephants and rhinos feel that they are benefiting from that custodianship? This does not have to be consumptive, but I think that unless we get that nexus right you’re not going to be able to protect… We are not getting that balance right.”

She would not be drawn on what South Africa’s stance on ivory or rhino horn trade might be at the next big CITES meeting, but said:

“What I would want to comment on is the question of how we ensure that communities living with wildlife have an interest in conservation and sustainable relationships with that wildlife as opposed to conflictual relationships. The great concern I would have over the recent CITES is that I think that that question is not being explored fully.”

https://www.dailymaverick.co.za/article ... ning-role/
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Re: Interview: Environment minister Barbara Creecy surprised at her mining role

Post by Richprins » Thu Oct 03, 2019 8:14 am

These days our great leaders are often"surprised", "pained" or "shocked"... O**
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Re: Interview: Environment minister Barbara Creecy surprised at her mining role

Post by Lisbeth » Thu Oct 03, 2019 11:31 am

Surprised, pained and shocked to immobility O**
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Re: Interview: Environment minister Barbara Creecy surprised at her mining role

Post by RogerFraser » Thu Oct 03, 2019 11:57 am

0- its the new dawn phrase of choice "I am shocked" /ou/

Love how an article apparently about mining turns into a Cites bashing and then sustainable use of wildlife resources article .Seems to be the same thread from the new head of the dept O**

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Re: Environment minister Barbara Creecy surprised at her mining role

Post by Lisbeth » Fri Oct 04, 2019 10:36 am

OUR BURNING PLANET

Barbara Creecy wants an environmentally literate SA — and stresses importance of science

By Chelsey Moubray• 4 October 2019

Getting ordinary South Africans to understand current conservation issues is key to the environment department developing evidence-based policy, argues Minister of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries, Barbara Creecy.

South Africans don’t know enough about climate change and this needs to be addressed if the country is to become environmentally secure.

That’s according to Minister of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries, Barbara Creecy, who on Tuesday 1 October announced that following research by the department and the CSIR, the department was exploring the concept of a Citizen’s Environmental Awareness Index based on the results of an annual independent national public environmental awareness survey.

Creecy made the announcement during a keynote address at the 10th Oppenheimer Research Conference in Midrand.

The theme of the conference was “Advancing Conservation Consciousness,” a topic dominating the headlines as countries and companies across the world are making a conscious effort to alleviate the effects of climate change.

Citing the results of a 2018 Afro-barometer survey, which sought to establish whether “South Africans are prepared to confront climate change,” Creecy said more than half (54%) of South Africans said they had not heard of climate change.

The same study showed that rural residents (63%), women (58%) and citizens without formal education (65%), are particularly likely to be unaware of climate change, indicating that the South Africans most vulnerable to the climate crisis are the least informed.

Even among those South Africans with a post-secondary education, 37% admitted they had never heard of climate change. And among those South Africans that had heard of climate change and its damaging effects, only 52% felt it needed to be stopped. The Afro-barometer survey further found that only 20% of South Africans felt they could do “a lot” about the situation.

“We want all our citizens to understand that climate change, loss of biodiversity and environmental degradation are happening now and that we can do something about it,” Creecy said.

“These are everyone’s issues and we need to know what we can do individually and collectively to remedy the situation.”

She underlined that establishing an understanding of “conservation consciousness” among all South Africans will determine how effective the country’s methods of combatting climate change have been and will be.

“This brings us to the importance of environmental literacy,” she said.

“An environmentally literate society is one where everyone has the understanding, skills and motivation to make responsible decisions that consider her or his relationships to natural systems, communities and future generations.”

She argued that scientific information had to become more accessible to the ordinary South African.

“If one believes that sustainable development is only possible if it is underpinned and informed by an environmentally literate society, then it is not just about making scientific evidence available… to policymakers. It’s about making it more available, accessible, clear, relevant and reliable for everyone,” she said.

Bobby Peek of Groundwork, a non-profit environmental justice service and developmental organisation, agrees that it is important that South Africans understand how they relate to climate change and how it may affect us.

“But we cannot hide behind the issue of the public not being well informed and the issue of poverty as excuses not to take action,” he said.

“We know why climate change is happening. It doesn’t need new science and new research. The department needs to take action.”

But when it comes to the formulation of policy, Peek agrees that we need to get creative.

“What is important is the fact that we need to deal with climate change issues in a creative way in terms of policy and service delivery to the poor. This will be a big challenge.”

Creecy set out the motivation for science-based evidence:

“We need to know, with an estimated degree of certainty, what works, to achieve which outcomes, for which groups of people, under which conditions, over what time span, and at what cost.

“We believe that policies based on evidence are better informed, more effective and the most cost-efficient,” she said.

But exactly how this evidence will be gathered is still a matter for deliberation.

The minister invited the members of the conference, made up of individuals and organisations involved in the fields of natural and environmental sciences, to come up with innovative and effective ideas in the panel discussion that would take place during the day.

“I call on this community to identify, explore, forge, create, operationalise, inspire and inform the societal partnerships that are needed to secure an environmental future.”

One option being explored by the department is the concept of a Citizen’s Environmental Awareness Index to be based on the results of an annual independent national public environmental awareness survey.

“Conservation consciousness cannot be the exclusive domain of a select privileged few. It must be a key component in our environmental literacy… we will only be able to develop and implement progressive environmental policy in a receptive environment,” Creecy said.

The speech was well-received by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF SA), which welcomed the minister’s clear commitment to embracing evidence-based policy-making.

Dr Morné du Plessis, CEO of WWF SA, described the speech as an “inspirational, positive and level-headed assessment of what is required” at this time.

“Science forms the bedrock of evidence and minister Creecy also acknowledges its contributions more broadly; how it’s informed by insights, experience, local knowledge, anecdotes, lived experience and culture.

“It’s important that we hear a person in a decision-making position talk about the complexity of the decision-making process.”

Chelsey Moubray is an intern with Daily Maverick.
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Re: Environment minister Barbara Creecy surprised at her mining role

Post by Lisbeth » Fri Oct 04, 2019 10:39 am

Even among those South Africans with a post-secondary education, 37% admitted they had never heard of climate change. And among those South Africans that had heard of climate change and its damaging effects, only 52% felt it needed to be stopped. The Afro-barometer survey further found that only 20% of South Africans felt they could do “a lot” about the situation.
It is shocking! O** Really O/
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Re: Environment minister Barbara Creecy surprised at her mining role

Post by Flutterby » Sat Oct 05, 2019 8:57 am

EMS FOUNDATION Blog, 4 October 2019

Giving new meaning to the word Disingenuous!: Minister Creecy takes selfie with climate change activist Greta Thunberg.

Barbara Creecy, South Africa’s Minister for the Environment, Forestry and Fisheries, yesterday – 3 October 2019 – addressed the launch of South Africa’s National Biodiversity Assessment. This occasion follows hot on the heels of the Minister appearing in selfies with Greta Thunberg, whose speech to the United Nations Climate Action summit on 23 September has made some angry white men hot under the collar (or even angrier).

Minister Creecy noted that one in seven of our 23,312 indigenous species that were assessed are now considered to be threatened with extinction. Aside from the fact that 36 of our plant species (out of a total of 20,401) are extinct, with another 70 ‘possibly extinct’, Creecy pointed to the collapse of our freshwater systems as the most concerning of the report’s findings. The minister well understands the importance of freshwater ecosystems and indeed terrestrial ecosystems. However, the language employed in her speeches is part of the challenge:
“The restoration and protection of freshwater ecosystems, or what we term eco-infrastructure services, will deliver huge returns on investment with great benefit to the communities that depend on them”

This – and her proposed solutions – lie at the heart of how we landed in this mess in the first place. South Africa simply has to become more radical about preserving the ecological integrity that remains and restoring that which has been lost.

As is well-known, South Africa’s official shorthand for the concept underpinning its approach to the natural environment is that of ‘sustainable use’, ostensibly derived from Section 24 of our constitution, except of course that the constitution nowhere uses that phrase. To the contrary, it emphasises ecological sustainability at the heart of the right to healthy environment, and ‘use’ only where it is justifiable and does not jeopardise future generations. One example of South Africa’s position, at odds with the spirit of the constitution, comes from the minister’s statement at the parliamentary budget vote speech in which she said that ‘illegal poaching and the illicit wildlife trade continue to threaten both our conservation and sustainable use efformts.’

Indeed, Minister Creecy sent an extraordinarily large delegation from South Africa to the most expensive city in the world for CoP18 – the 18th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). This Conference provided the clearest evidence of what South African authorities typically mean by ‘sustainable use’ – sell off the derivative parts of our most iconic species to ‘fund conservation’ and ‘benefit local communities’, all on the assumption that such sales will be well-governed and not exacerbate poaching and the illegal wildlife trade – the very problems we’re purportedly trying to solve.

South Africa joined some of its southern African neighbours in calling for a re-opening of the international trade in ivory. It also fought for – and won – the right to increase its hunting quota for black rhino, despite having relatively unreliable population numbers on which to do so. South Africa similarly pleaded to be allowed to sell its stockpiled rhino horn in global markets. Underpinning this is the idea that the environment, and the wild species it supports, exists primarily to serve people and should be made subservient to those ends. In other words, it does not view the environment as inherently valuable in its own right.

If you have ever wondered why you hear terms like ‘ecosystem services’ and ‘natural capital accounting’, here’s the answer: they’re part of the attempt to place a monetary value on the environment in the misplaced belief that such monetisation will provide sufficient incentives to people to look after the environment. While one may sympathise with the logic, it is indicative of humanity having reduced the natural environment to a mere object for our gratification. The ‘sustainable’ element of ‘sustainable use’ discourse is almost an after-thought. A bit like when colonial trophy hunters shot out an extraordinary number of African elephants and then established fortress conservation (kicking local communities out) to ensure that there were at least enough elephants to shoot in the following years. They then set up a quota system. Ok, so what’s the problem if they’re conserving resources for future use?

It’s twofold. First, we can never adequately value the environment in capital terms. We will always underestimate it. What is the value of oxygen? What is the value of clean air, clean water, a carbon sink, the preservation of fish species that thrive in mangrove forests that depend for survival on no upstream dams being built, and so on? Let’s take a practical example. If we were to extend the World Heritage Site of the Okavango Delta right up to the source of the Angolan rivers that feed it, what should we be prepared to pay for that? Surely we should compensate those who would benefit from dams, rice paddies and hunting the animals that live there? Or what if we were to stop the logging contracts that have been dished out in Tanzania to clear forests in advance of dropping concrete into Stiegler’s Gorge (in the middle of the Selous World Heritage Site)? Surely we should pay compensation to those who are benefiting (purportedly) from the logging and the hydropower that will come from the dam? The problem with the compensation questions is that they utterly underestimate the opportunity costs that invariably attach to development projects that destroy ecological integrity. You might get power, but at what real cost? The downstream effects of building that dam will be that rare fish species which depend on interconnected oxbow lakes just west of the mangrove forests will go extinct. You might get some money from logging, but you lose a carbon sink. You might get some rice but you might lose the Delta (with all the biodiversity and tourism revenue generated by that very biodiversity).

The second, and related, problem is one of economic modelling. As Georgescu-Roegen pointed out in the early 1970s, we treat the economy as if nature is free, as if we can extract it and not expect to pay for it. We mine coal and generate coal-fired power, but at what cost? Economists now call these costs ‘externalities’ – the social and environmental burdens offloaded onto those who can least afford it, or the ‘divergence between private returns and social costs.’ But who is going to compensate the coal miners who go home to die in the Eastern Cape with some coal-related sickness? Who is going to pay for the endless social healthcare burden associated with breathing rubbish quality air? We think that we can measure the value of a healthy environment through measuring trade-offs – we’re prepared to lose $x worth of a carbon sink for the sake of $y value of electricity. But clearly we’ve underestimated the ‘value’ of the carbon sinks, which is why Greta Thunberg has to ask us: “How dare you pretend that this can be solved with business-as-usual and some technical solutions. With today’s emission levels, that remaining CO2 budget will be entirely gone in less than eight and a half years.”

In South Africa, our government treats nature as a means to an end, just like the apartheid government did. We can breed lions, tigers and chimpanzees and export them or their parts, hunt our rhino or deplete our fish stocks (and the list goes on) as long as such activity does not exceed the ‘maximum sustainable yield’ (MSY) – the supposed amount that can be extracted without jeopardising the future of the stocks. But even in the UK, with some of the best scientists, they completely underestimated the size of their cod stock. It has now collapsed because the annual ‘offtake’ allowed (note the clinical language to hide the decimation) from the MSY was excessive. This shows the arrogance of humans. We think that we can measure everything and place a monetary value on nature, whose worth we will only truly grasp when it’s gone.

To quote from George Monbiot: “Sorry, did I say nature? We don’t call it that anymore. It is now called natural capital. Ecological processes are called ecosystem services because, of course, they exist only to serve us. Hills, forests, rivers: these are terribly out-dated terms. They are now called green infrastructure. Biodiversity and habitats? Not at all à la mode my dear. We now call them asset classes in an ecosystems market. I am not making any of this up. These are the names we now give to the natural world.”

What about people? The language that Minister Creecy uses consistently implies that we must place people at the centre of preserving the environment. That’s exactly the wrong way around. People will die – and they are dying – precisely because we thought that we could enslave nature, monetise it, extract from it and harness it to serve our greed. It is not accidental that the poor will suffer the most because of our abrogation of responsibility to live in harmony with nature. They should be compensated. But the firms that should be doing so are too busy funding deforestation. And why are some of the world’s ‘leading’ men – Trump, Putin, Bolsonaro – so upset with Greta Thunberg? Because them or their handlers have made their millions on the back of the very destruction that Thunberg is calling them to account for. The beef industry, the fossil fuel industry, the palm oil industry, the agro-processing industry – these are among the biggest culprits.

South Africa has to wake up. We cannot carry on with this approach of fiddling around the edges and dressing up our destructive activities in the name of ‘sustainable use’ and pretending that there is some kind of balance that needs to be struck between ‘development’ and ‘nature’. There is no development without nature. Not everything can be measured and certainly the most valuable things should not be monetised.

What do we do? Stop coal. Fast. Stop breeding wild animals and exotic species for monetary gain by flouting CITES loopholes. Stop extracting so much water from our freshwater ecosystems to literally water unsustainable activities such as industrial beef and dairy farming. Just stop? Yes. We can’t have our Minister taking selfies with Greta Thunberg and then defending concepts and policies that have created the very problems that moved Thunberg to tie herself to parliament in the first place. We need a new paradigm.

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Re: Environment minister Barbara Creecy surprised at her mining role

Post by Lisbeth » Sat Oct 05, 2019 10:12 am

I like the article! Who has written it?

Greta Thunberg has been great to awaken awareness, but her speech at the UN was so obvious a part learnt in front of a mirror and definitely childish and exaggerated IMO. Now she can go back to school; she has done a good job, but now we need something more serious and more scientific.
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Re: Environment minister Barbara Creecy surprised at her mining role

Post by Richprins » Sat Oct 05, 2019 11:01 am

Yes, the little girl is a trifle obnoxious! --00--
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Re: Environment minister Barbara Creecy surprised at her mining role

Post by Lisbeth » Sat Oct 05, 2019 12:39 pm

:yes: O**
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