The power-supply crisis and looming fresh-water shortage are early warning signs that South Africa needs to curb use of natural resources, global wildlife fund WWF said on Wednesday.
“South Africa has a narrowing time window in which to act decisively to prevent critical resource shortages that could dash our hopes of sustained economic growth,” said South African WWF chief executive for nature Dr Morné du Plessis.
He was speaking at the Delta Park environmental centre in Johannesburg.
“Imagine if we had to hold our leaders accountable in 50 years for the decisions that they make, or don’t make, now.
“This is what will in effect be the lifecycle over which any new coal-fired power station will be pumping obscene quantities of carbon into the air.”
Du Plessis said few politicians were willing to make tough choices that would benefit an unborn electorate.
Efforts to stop the degradation of the planet’s natural environment and to build a future in which humans lived in harmony with nature would only succeed if jointly undertaken by civil society, lawmakers and, above all, by consumers, he added.
“We have an excellent, progressive Constitution, but unless we start taking our environmental stewardship obligations seriously we risk many of our citizens being unable to have access to those rights, because of the rate at which our natural resources are being consumed.”
The public had blindly trusted the powers that be and now that trust had been broken.
“Healthy people live in healthy environments. It is time that we as a society become more demanding of the way in which we make those critical decisions upon which our children will reflect.”