SOUTH Africa’s government has released a revised climate change policy document for public comment, significantly reducing the upper limit target for harmful carbon emissions seen over the next decade, senior officials said.
The draft Nationally Determined Contribution document, which updates a previous 2015 study, outlines the mitigation, adaptation and financing policies Africa’s worst polluter and most industrialised country will pursue. Once finalised, the NDC will be deposited at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change before November.
A key new policy proposal shows that greenhouse gas emission targets will likely be in a range of 398 million tonnes of carbon equivalent to 510 MTCO2e in 2025, and in a range of 398-440 MTCO2e by 2030.
“Both the 2025 and 2030 targets are consistent with South Africa’s fair share (to global mitigation efforts) and also an ambitious improvement on our current NDC target,” said Maesela Kekana, international climate change negotiator at the department of environmental affairs.
In the previous study, the government pledged the upper limit as 614 MTCO2e by 2025 and a similar amount by 2030. Greenhouse emissions were expected to peak between 2020 and 2025, plateau for a decade before declining in absolute terms thereafter.
“When it comes to the 2030 target … this translates into a 28% percent reductions from the 2015 target, so it is quite a significant improvement,” Kekana added.
He said South Africa needs to access around $8 billion in financing each year, quadruple the amount it sourced before, until 2030 for its mitigation and adaptation initiatives to succeed.
A water-scarce country with large coal reserves, most of South Africa’s emissions derive from energy production, with about 80% percent of the country’s 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.