The Congress of South African Trade Unions notes the NCOP’s adoption of the Carbon Tax Bill today. We agree with the government and progressive civil society that climate change poses an existential threat to the very survival of humanity and the planet and that decisive action is needed now.
The federation accepts that taxes are one tool in changing consumer and industrial behaviour. We recognise that carbon pricing and taxes and a transition to a low carbon emissions economy will soon become a requirement if we are to continue to export our products to the European Union, our largest trading partner. Our economy cannot afford to lose out on the EU market for our exports.
COSATU does not agree with those profits at all costs polluters in the industry, who seek to deny the reality of climate change and its devastating impact upon working-class communities. We need to look no further than the drought in the Cape, acid mine water in Gauteng, desertification in the Karoo, pollution caused deaths in Mpumalanga and Limpopo, and the cataclysmic flooding in Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe; to see that climate change is here and it is killing our people.
Industry, consumers, society must change. A just transition must happen now but it must not and does not need to result in workers being thrown into the scrap heap of unemployment.
COSATU is equally irritated with the government for not moving faster to deliver on a just transition that ensures workers do not lose their jobs. In fact, more jobs need to be created and the fragile economic sectors can be protected. We have made numerous concrete proposals at Nedlac and the Presidential Jobs Summit to government and business on how we can create a just transition that will do precisely that. Unfortunately, since the Presidential Jobs Summit, we have seen very little effort by business and government to deliver on these progressive opportunities and commitments.
COSATU supports Parliament’s resolution that the 6th Parliament should summon government and Nedlac on a quarterly basis to account on their implementation of the Presidential Jobs Summit and in particular the agreed Carbon and Sugar Tax Jobs Plans. We will be at the forefront of ensuring that the 6th Parliament holds both government and business accountable for delivering a just transition.
For further information please contact: Matthew Parks Parliamentary Coordinator
Cell: 082 785 0687