The Challenges of Turning Green

Private Property South Africa
Lea Jacobs

The fact that Eskom is battling to meet increasing demands to supply high levels of power to South African homes could well work in our favour. In a country where electrical power is fast becoming an expensive option, coupled with the fact that the country’s power utility simply cannot supply enough power for all has forced many to go green. This could have an extremely positive effect on the environment. Think about it, how many people have solar geysers? South Africa has the perfect climate and homeowners who use technology to harness the power of the sun can, in theory, do their bit to save the planet.

Scientists have been stating for years that the world is sitting on a disaster of mega-proportions, but until fairly recently most of us turned a blind eye to what we deemed other people’s problems. However, as the climates around the world including South Africa continue to change, the calls to actually do something about saving the planet have been growing louder.

South African’s have perhaps not been regarded as the most environmentally conscious people on the planet. Very few, unlike their European counterparts, recycle. Many still flush their grey water into the country’s sewerage systems without a second thought and, until Eskom put a stop to it by charging more for the commodity, tended to waste electricity on a grand scale.

The environment has come under the spotlight once again thanks, in part, to the 17th annual meeting of COP (Conference of the Parties) at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Durban. The COP serves as the meeting of the parties to the Kyoto Protocol, an initiative aimed at reducing Green House gas emissions by 37 industrialised countries and the European community, which is also party to the agreement.

The conference that has attracted delegates from approximately 190 countries around the world has been plagued with problems, including whether or not to renew the Kyoto Protocol. One of the arguments that has raised its head is that China, although the largest producer of greenhouse gasses, was initially reluctant to commit to the treaty, and although the tide appears to be turning, it remains to be seen just how much responsibility this major contributor is going to be willing to take.

As with anything political, the initiative has not always run smoothly. There are vast amounts of money involved and some of the countries that emit large amounts of greenhouse gases appear to be reluctant to take full responsibly for their actions. The state of the world’s economy and the costs associated with reversing the damage already caused by carbon emissions, has seemingly caused some countries to start back peddling. This is not surprising as some experts maintain that the amounts needed to cover the costs of making the world a greener place will run into hundreds of billions of US Dollars.

The current Kyoto Protocol is due to expire in 2012 and urgent talks have been held in an effort to not only maintain the policies in the agreement but to also expand the number of countries, including some of the world’s largest polluters namely China, the USA and some emerging countries, which presently do not subscribe to the existing protocol.

The conference has evoked a great deal of emotions and people from all over the world have come to Durban to voice their displeasure about how things currently stand. A number of Greenpeace activists were arrested and subsequently deported when they tried to erect a banner at one of Durban’s beachfront hotels.

People are far more educated on environmental issues and the effects that this has on climate change. Citizens around the world are witnessing first-hand the effects of global warming and if the anger displayed at the conference in Durban is anything to go by, governments need to get their acts together and start doing something constructive about this ever-growing problem.

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