This week, government released a revised climate challenge policy document for public comment. It significantly reduces the upper limit target for harmful carbon emissions over the next decade, senior officials have said.
The draft Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) document, which updates a 2015 study, outlines the mitigation, adaptation and financing policies that Africa’s worst polluter and most industrialised country will pursue.
Once finalised, the NDC will be deposited at the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change before November.
A key new policy proposal shows that greenhouse gas emission targets will most likely be in a range of 398 million tons of carbon equivalent to 510 tons in 2025, and in a range of 398 million to 440 million by 2030.
“Both the 2025 and 2030 targets are consistent with South Africa’s fair share [in global mitigation efforts] and also an ambitious improvement on our current NDC target,” said Maesela Kekana, the international climate crisis negotiator at the department of environmental affairs.
“When it comes to the 2030 target ... this translates into a 28% reduction from the 2015 target, so it is quite a significant improvement,” Kekana added.
He said South Africa needed to access about $8 billion (R1.17 trillion) in financing each year – quadruple the amount it sourced before – until 2030 for its mitigation and adaptation initiatives to succeed.
As a water-scarce country with large coal reserves, most of South Africa’s emissions derive from energy production, with about 80% of the electricity generated by ageing coal-fired power stations.
South Africa has already introduced a carbon tax and intends to decommission several coal-fired power plants by 2030, as it diversifies its energy mix to include solar and wind projects.