Environment, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Barbara Creecy says South Africa is committed to enhancing its nationally determined contributions (NDCs) to address climate change through present and upcoming legislation.
Speaking at the UN Climate Change Conference COP25 in Madrid, Creecy said: “As part of this effort our carbon tax came into effect on the first of June this year. Additionally, comprehensive climate change legislation is in the pipeline.
She added these efforts have begun to see improvements in greenhouse gas emissions between 2012 and 2015.
“Our effort is beginning to bear fruit: SA’s third bi-annual update report shows greenhouse gas emission reductions from 2012 to 2015,” Creecy said.
However, Climate Action Tracker rated these NDCs as highly insufficient, saying the “commitments with this rating fall outside the fair share range and are not at all consistent with holding warming to below 2°C let alone with the Paris Agreement’s stronger 1.5°C limit. If all government targets were in this range, warming would reach between 3°C and 4°C”.
It said while the South African government had approved its integrated resource plan (IRP2019) in October, “it would still see South Africa complete nearly 6GW of costly coal capacity currently under construction and commission another 1.5GW of new coal capacity by 2030”.
The plan decreases the country’s reliance on coal, moving to the adoption of renewables and gas. It also proposes extending the operational life span of South Africa’s only nuclear plant by 20 years.
“The final plan marks a major shift in energy policy, which is remarkable for a coal-dominated country like South Africa. It aims to decommission over 35GW [of 42GW currently operating] of coal-fired power capacity from state-owned coal and utility giant Eskom by 2050,” Climate Action Tracker said.
The COP25 conference aims to finalise the implementation guidelines for the Paris Agreement – which is due to become operational by 2020.
In her speech, Creecy said South Africa would enhance its climate change plans by 2020 in line with the Paris Agreement.
“As a responsible global citizen, we will always strive to make a fair contribution to the global climate change effort in a manner that simultaneously addresses our national priorities to eradicate poverty, as well as reduce inequality and unemployment,” she added.