South Africa proposes an emissions reduction below business-as-usual (BAU) of 34% by 2020 and 42% by 2025. Relative to 1990 emissions, this represents a 20–73% increase in emissions in 2020 and 20–82% increase in 2025. South Africa’s pledge is relative to a large BAU range, which consequently results in a large pledge range.
The Climate Action Tracker’s projection for South Africa’s emissions under current policies has an increasing trend, with emissions in 2020 and 2025 expected to increase by 110% and 141%, respectively, from 1990 levels. Without implementing new emissions reduction policies, South Africa is not expected to meet its targets.
South Africa pledged to undertake mitigation actions with the aim of reducing emissions below BAU by 34% in 2020, and by 42% in 2025. The emissions level derived from South Africa’s pledge is 417–602 MtCO2e in 2020 excluding land use, land use change and forestry (LULUCF). It proposed this target during the Copenhagen negotiations and submitted it to the Copenhagen Accord on 29 January 2010.
Based on this, South Africa’s emissions should peak between 2020 and 2025, plateau for approximately a decade and then decline in absolute terms thereafter. This characterises a peak-plateau-decline (PPD) trajectory. This undertaking is conditional on a fair, ambitious and effective agreement in the international climate change negotiations under the Climate Change convention and the Kyoto Protocol and the provision of support from the international community.
To 2030, South Africa’s pledge range lies in the “medium” and “inadequate” rating ranges. However, due to the conditional nature of South Africa’s pledge, we rated it as “inadequate.” To be rated in the “medium” or “sufficient” categories, South Africa needs to target more ambitious emissions reductions over this period. However, South Africa’s pledged emissions level in 2050 is in the “medium” range. In 2050, this medium range is consistent with the capability, staged and responsibility/capability/need effort sharing approaches.
Currently implemented policies have so far had little effect on the emissions trend compared to BAU. Current policy-based projections are estimated to lead to an emissions level of 729 MtCO2e in 2020 excluding LULUCF, which is equivalent to a 110% increase in emissions from 1990 levels. For 2030, the current policy analysis suggests a further increase in emissions to 943 MtCO2e, representing a 172% increase in emissions compared to 1990 levels. The LULUCF sector represents a small net carbon sink, with emissions from this sector reported to be -19 MtCO2e in 2010.
Historically, South Africa’s emissions have steadily increased throughout the time frame where data are available. South Africa’s economy relies heavily on mining and heavy industry. Energy consumption in the industrial and buildings sectors relies largely on electricity as an energy source, which is produced with high carbon intensity using domestic coal. A large share of industrial-process emissions is due to coal use and a high share of transport fuels are domestically produced by coal-to-liquid processes. Overall it is estimated that 94% of South Africa’s electricity is generated from coal (IEA, 2013).
One of South Africa’s key policies to reduce emissions is through increased deployment of renewable energy. The Integrated Resource Electricity Plan (IRP) 2010–2030 sets a new installed renewable capacity target of 17.8 GW for 2030. In 2012, the government replaced its feed-in-tariff scheme with the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Programme (REIPPP). This was originally intended to fund the procurement of 3,725 MW of renewable capacity up to 2016 through a bidding process. However, at the end of 2012, the REIPPP was extended to fund a further 3,200 MW of capacity (DOE, 2013).
As of May 2015, four bidding rounds have been completed, with 5,400 MW of renewable projects procured under the REIPPP (DOE, 2015). In accordance with the IRP, a further 6,300 MW is expected to be added to the REIPPP (DOE, 2015). The REIPPP has been successful in generating interest in renewable energy project development, with all bidding rounds significantly over-subscribed.
Finally, the National Climate Change Response Paper identified key policy areas and packages (flagship programmes) that are planned for future implementation. It focuses mainly on adaption activities, but also addresses mitigation options such as the Energy Efficiency and Demand Management flagship programmes that will cover development and facilitation of an aggressive energy efficiency programme in industry.
For baseline projections and the pledge we use data provided by the South African government in their White Paper on Climate Change in 2011 (DEA, 2011a).
Current policy projections
For historic emissions, we use the 2000–2010 GHG Inventory for South Africa (DEA, 2013). The current trend analysis is the “With Existing Measures” scenario developed by the Department of Environmental Affairs (2014). We assume a constant value for LULUCF in the future, which is based on the average LULUCF value over the period from 2000–2010.
Department of Energy (DOE) (2013) Expansion and Acceleration of the Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme
Department of Energy (DOE) (2013). Renewable Energy IPP Procurement Programme.
Department of Energy (DOE). New bidding process for Renewable Technologies.
Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) (2013). GHG Inventory for South Africa 2000 - 2010.
Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) (2014). South Africa’s Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Mitigation Potential Analysis.
Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) South Africa's BAU.
DEA (2011a). Explanatory note: Defining South Africa’s Peak, Plateau and Decline Greenhouse Gas Emission Trajectory.
Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism (DEAT) (2007). Long Term Mitigation Scenarios. Strategic Options for South Africa.
International Energy Agency (IEA) (2014). World Energy Outlook 2014.
IEA (2013). Energy Balances of Non-OECD Countries.
Republic of South Africa (2011). National Climate Change Response White Paper (5 December, 2012).
Republic of South Africa(2010). South Africa's pledge to the Copenhagen Accord. Compiled in: Compilation of information on nationally appropriate mitigation actions to be implemented by Parties not included in Annex I to the Convention, UNFCCC (2011)