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The comments submitted by the EMS Foundation and the Wild Law Institute have been endorsed by the members of the Wildlife Animal Protection Forum of South Africa, Animal Law Reform and the Climate Justice Charter Movement.



  1. We strongly support the enactment of a Climate Change Act. However, we believe that the Bill requires strengthening to ensure that it can function as an appropriate legal framework for effective climate change responses.

2. In this document we propose various amendments to the Bill and explain why they are necessary. Annex A contains the current version of the Bill which we have marked-up to show the amendments that should be made in order to give effect to the proposals in this document. We have done so in order to facilitate the finalisation of the Bill.

3. Our primary concern with the current version of the Bill is that its scope is too narrow because it does not take account:

3.1 of the deeper systemic causes of climate change which motivate people to act in ways that exacerbate climate change; or

3.2 of the fact that the complex interrelationships between different life forms is responsible for establishing and maintaining the stability of the global climate which means that climate change responses must simultaneously address the protection and restoration of ecosystems and natural processes in order to be effective.

4. We propose that the scope of the Bill be widened by introducing the concept of harmonious co- existence and making amendments to the long title, preamble, principles (among other provisions) to reflect a wider eco-centric approach. We propose that this term be defined as follows:

‘‘harmonious co-existence’’ means a state in which humans relate to other aspects of Nature in ways that are either beneficial to, or do not harm, the integrity and health of ecosystems and the functioning of the natural processes that sustain life and maintain climate stability;”

5. Our other principal concerns are that the Bill:

5.1 does not acknowledge the existence of a climate emergency or provide for the taking of the urgent and far-reaching measures necessary to respond to the current global climate emergency and effect transformative changes in society;

5.2 does not take a comprehensive, holistic and integrated approach to climate change response and that climate change response plans should address adaptation, mitigation and the promotion of harmonious co-existence with Nature as a pathway to climate stability;

5.3 focuses on reducing GHG emissions (Chapter 5) as a mitigation response but it should also encompass the taking of measures to restore the carbon-sequestration capacity of indigenous ecosystems and agricultural land, and to address the forces driving the continuation of activities that exacerbate the climate crisis, including subsidies and the adoption of plans and the authorisation of projects that exacerbate climate change;

5.4 does not impose clear, legally binding duties on the State and other parties to take urgent measures to avoid exacerbating climate change and to take measures to respond to the climate crisis, such as preventing the commencement of activities that exacerbate climate change, phasing out existing activities that do so, ceasing to provide incentives to activities that exacerbate climate change or to prioritise the protection of fundamental human rights over the promotion of economic growth;

5.5 gives insufficient attention to the importance of ensuring that climate change responses are undertaken in ways that uphold human rights and the rights of Nature, and promote harmonious co-existence;

5.6 does not provide for a dedicated funding mechanism that can be used to incentivise desirable behaviour and finance transformative change;

5.7 does not provide for effective enforcement mechanism that would enable swift and effective enforcement action to be taken against those that do not comply.

6. All of these issues can be addressed by making the relatively few amendments indicated in the marked-up version of the Bill that is attached as Annex A to this document.

Image Credit: Chante Schatz News24 (Floods in KwaZulu Natal April 2022) Photo by Gallo Images/Darren Stewart

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