South Africa

Critically Insufficient4°C+
World
Commitments with this rating fall well 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 exceed 4°C.
Highly insufficient< 4°C
World
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.
Insufficient< 3°C
World
Commitments with this rating are in the least stringent part of their fair share range and not consistent with holding warming 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 over 2°C and up to 3°C.
2°C Compatible< 2°C
World
Commitments with this rating are consistent with the 2009 Copenhagen 2°C goal and therefore fall within the country’s fair share range, but are not fully consistent with the Paris Agreement. If all government targets were in this range, warming could be held below, but not well below, 2°C and still be too high to be consistent with the Paris Agreement 1.5°C limit.
1.5°C Paris Agreement Compatible< 1.5°C
World
This rating indicates that a government’s efforts are in the most stringent part of its fair share range: it is consistent with the Paris Agreement’s 1.5°C limit.
Role model<< 1.5°C
World
This rating indicates that a government’s efforts are more ambitious than what is considered a fair contribution: it is more than consistent with the Paris Agreement’s 1.5°C limit.

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Overview

The new South African government under President Cyril Ramaphosa released the long-awaited draft of its Integrated Resource Plan (IRP 2018) in August, setting out a new direction in energy sector planning. The plan includes a shift away from coal, increased adoption of renewables and gas, and an end to the expansion of nuclear power.

The revised plan, if adopted, would mark a major shift in energy policy, which is remarkable for a coal-dominated country like South Africa. It aims to decommission a total of 35 GW (of 42 GW currently operating) of coal generation capacity from state-owned coal and utility giant Eskom by 2050, starting with 12 GW by 2030, 16 GW by 2040 and a further 7 GW by 2050.

The plan also proposes a significant increase in renewables-based generation from wind and solar as well as gas-based generation capacity by 2030 and beyond, with no further new nuclear capacity being procured.

Implementing the IRP update of 2018 could bring South Africa close to meeting the upper range of its 2030 NDC target. However, we rate South Africa’s NDC target as “Highly Insufficient”. South Africa will still need to adopt more ambitious targets to meet its NDC, such as expanding renewable energy capacity beyond 2030, phasing out coal, substantially limiting natural gas use by 2050 as well as work on other sectors like transport, industry and buildings.

The 2018 IRP update is open for public comment until November 2018, but the Government hasn’t yet communicated a timeline for the plan’s final adoption.

After almost two years of stalling, in February 2018, the Department of Public Enterprises finally gave approval to the Department of Energy and Eskom (which owns the majority of South Africa’s coal plants) to sign outstanding power purchase agreements with renewable energy companies. The Ministry of Energy has announced that a new bid round for renewable energy projects will open in November 2018. The success of these promising signs of progress under new Minister of Energy Jeff Radebe remains uncertain, given the expected pushback by unions and industry toward the proposed IRP update as well as Eskom’s ongoing financial struggles.

South Africa’s Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) contains a target to limit greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions including land use, land use change and forestry (LULUCF) to between 398 and 614 MtCO2e over the period 2025–2030. This target is equivalent to a 19–82% increase on 1990 levels excl. LULUCF. Although South Africa is one of the few countries that has put forward absolute emission reduction targets in their NDC, we still rate this target “Highly insufficient”.

South Africa’s NDC is consistent with its pledge under the Copenhagen Accord, which proposed emissions reductions below business-as-usual (BAU) levels, incl. LULUCF, by 34% in 2020 and 42% in 2025. This represents a 19–73% increase in emissions excl. LULUCF in 2020 and a 19–82% increase in 2025 on 1990 levels, excl. LULUCF.

According to our analysis, under its currently implemented policies and continued low economic growth, South Africa will reach the higher end of its 2030 emission reduction targets in 2020 and 2025, and gets close to its mitigation target in 2030. Emissions projections for 2030 are 27 MtCO2e higher than the upper end of the target for 2030. The CAT’s projections show South Africa’s emissions trajectory under its implemented policies in 2020 and 2030 are expected to increase by 74% and 90%, respectively, on 1990 levels excl. LULUCF. If South Africa’s economy were to grow again, emissions levels up to 2030 may be expected to increase.

Renewables deployment has been hampered because Eskom, South Africa’s state-owned grid operator and owner of most South African coal plants, stalled for months on signing power purchase agreements with renewable energy companies - finally signing them in April 2018. This delay put the financial future of those companies at risk, along with the renewable energy capacity target, and has reduced the country’s renewable energy investment attractiveness. Uncertainty around Eskom’s financial solvency will remain a contributing factor to overall planning uncertainty and delays in progress on renewable capacity extension. A carbon tax bill has finally entered the Parliamentary process in February 2018 after two years of consultation. The final draft is expected to be completed by mid-2018 after further consultation.

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