One of the most serious challenges for man is that of the environment: cleaning up the existing pollution as best as possible and leaving behind a habitable world for future generations. In this issue of without prejudice there are seven articles that focus on some of these challenges.
At the recent G7 Summit held in Biarritz, France, ahead of the Climate Action Summit, United Nations Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres stressed the need for "more political will" in a time where the world is "facing a dramatic climate emergency".
The degree to which mining companies should be responsible for environmental rehabilitation and remediation at closure has been a topic of substantial debate for the past several years. The publication of the second draft of the National Environmental Management Act, 1998 (NEMA) "Proposed Regulations Pertaining to the Financial Provision for the Rehabilitation and Remediation of Environmental Damage caused by Reconnaissance, Prospecting, Exploration, Mining or Production Operations" (2019 Draft FP Regulations) earlier this year has reignited the debate.
Climate change refers to changes in our weather patterns due to an increase in the average global temperature. This increase has been largely caused by heightened greenhouse gas emissions from human activities following the Industrial Revolution in the mid-19th century. The bulk of emissions have, however, occurred in the last 70 years with activities such as burning of fossil fuels to meet the economic needs of our everescalating population (a more than six-fold increase on 1850 figures).
The question, "If a tree falls in the forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?", raises interesting issues regarding observation and perception. Regardless of who postulated this thought experiment first, or when, it remains valid today, particularly in a society obsessed with capturing and projecting images, often aimed at creating or influencing specific perceptions.
As international attention on climate change and sustainable development intensifies, financial systems worldwide are being reformed to focus more strongly on sustainability and build environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors in decision making. While South Africa's retirement fund industry has for many years been legally required to consider ESG factors in their investments, they are now being asked to increase the transparency of their ESG disclosure and reporting.
The Carbon Tax Act (15 of 2019) came into effect on 1 June, after many years of debate and public comment. The Act seeks to give effect to the polluter pays principle by imposing a tax on the carbon dioxide equivalent of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
Legal liability for climate change is an emerging risk for lenders in South Africa. It is by no means limited to projects in the fossil fuel industry and extends to every industry that produces greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Just a few examples where GHG emissions potentially open lenders up to this emerging risk are cement production, automotive manufacturing and electricity generation.
In my second year of articles my career was stalling. I had been placed in the corporate team in my firm and was supposed to be working for three partners. This arrangement was not really optimal as I felt that none of them were directly taking responsibility for me, I was not getting enough work and received even less guidance.
Throughout my LLB (and I am sure through yours too) I was reminded that practising law would not be like Suits, or perhaps if your lecturer was a little behind on their legal dramas, the reference would have been to Law and Order. So, going in, I at least knew what not to expect. Ultimately, I didn't have much of an idea of what to expect. I knew that practising would probably be vastly different to studying and I tried not to anticipate too much. This turned out to be a good idea as I doubt my expectations would have been correct.
Are you a candidate attorney or junior associate in a law firm looking to expand your horizons? Do you want a bird's eye view on legal career paths available in a thriving banking institution? Well, here is a little preview of what it is like to be a legal counsel/adviser in a dynamic banking organisation.