The National Assembly (NA) has, during its hybrid plenary this afternoon, passed the Climate Change Bill and the Railway Safety Bill, respectively.
Introduced in Parliament in 2022, the Climate Change Bill is the first piece of legislation in South Africa specifically aimed at mitigating and addressing the effects of climate change. The Bill’s objective is to establish a robust strategy for addressing climate change and implementing a fair, long-term energy transition plan, and ultimately fostering a low-carbon, climate-resilient economy in South Africa.
The Bill further seeks to manage climate change adaptation to impacts such as flooding, drought, wildfires, excessive heat, and water and food insecurity. The Bill provides that government, at provincial and national levels, is obliged to assess all the risks and expected impacts and create response plans.
The Bill also defines responsibilities for different national, provincial, and local governments, ensuring that all relevant role-players are mandated to do their part in responding to climate change and work together effectively.
The Bill is intended to ensure that the country is empowered to respond adequately and safely to climate change and its risks and impact. It seeks to regulate climate change mitigation through the reduction of greenhouse gas carbon emissions.
According to the Bill, the minister responsible for the environment must assign carbon budgets to companies to limit their carbon emissions.
The Railway Safety Bill, on the other hand, aims to amend the National Railway Safety Regulator Act 16 of 2002 by facilitating an improvement in general safety within the railway environment.
It seeks to ensure that rail becomes an attractive mode of transport and contributes towards economic growth, which is a platform to effectively fight inequality, poverty, and unemployment.
Additionally, in an effort to align legislation with the White Paper on National Rail Policy and government’s plan to move passengers and freight from road to rail, the Bill proposes and promotes the use of rail as an efficient mode of transport. Also, the Bill aims to facilitate a modern, flexible, and efficient regulatory regime that ensures the continuing enhancement of safe railway operations across the country.
Both Bills will now be sent to the National Council of Provinces for concurrence.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Republic of South Africa: The Parliament.