'SA must up its game to help fight climate change'
South Africa needs to redouble its efforts to find renewable energy resources to fight climate change.
This is according to World Wide Fund experts following the release of the latest report on the effects of climate change.
The report shows that human influence has been the dominant cause of global warming since the 1850s, and that the burning of fossil fuels for energy has been the main contributor.
According to the report - compiled by 209 lead authors with input from 600 other scientists - the warming of the climate system is "unequivocal".
"The atmosphere and oceans have warmed, the amounts of snow and ice have diminished, sea level has risen and the concentrations of greenhouse gases have increased," says the report.
Some of the major findings of the report include:
The earth's surface has been successively warmer in each of the past three decades than in any decade since 1850;
Over the past two decades, the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets have been losing mass, glaciers have continued to shrink almost worldwide, and Arctic sea ice and northern hemisphere spring snow cover have continued to decrease;
The rate of sea level's rise since the mid-19th century has been more than during the previous two millennia;
The atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide have increased to levels unprecedented in at least the past 800000 years.
The contrast in rainfall precipitation between wet and dry regions and between wet and dry seasons will increase, although there may be regional exceptions; and
It is very likely that the Arctic sea ice cover will continue to shrink and thin and global glacier volume will further decrease.
Dr Stephan Singer, director of the World Wide Fund for Nature's global energy policy, said carbon dioxide - mainly from burning fossil fuels that dissolved in oceans - mightdestroy the already fragile ecosystems.
"Warmer and much more acid oceans are detrimental for fish, coral reefs and most other parts of marine ecosystems," he said.
South Africa is heavily coal-dependent in its energy resources, with 90% of its energy mix coming from coal-burning power stations.
Eskom is at present building two more major coal-fired power stations - Medupi and Kusile. The cabinet recently approved the construction of a third.
"Energy accounts for more than two-thirds of greenhouse gas emissions," said Saliem Fakir, head of World Wide Fund South Africa's Living Planet Unit.
"The government has already committed to generating around 19 gigawatts of electricity through renewable energy by 2030. Doubling the effort means delivering on that far sooner than the deadline," Fakir said.