South Africa

Overall rating
Insufficient
Policies & action
Almost Sufficient
< 2°C World
Domestic target
Insufficient
< 3°C World
Fair share target
Highly insufficient
< 4°C World
Cimate finance
Not assessed
Net zero target

year

2050

Comprehensiveness not evaluated as

Information incomplete
Land use & forestry

impact on overall emissions is

Overview

This assessment includes our policy analysis from 22 September 2020 translated into our new rating methodology without new analysis of South Africa’s climate policies since then, except the NDC update submitted in July 2021. We will fully analyse South Africa in the coming months and the rating may change.

Overall rating
Insufficient

The CAT rates South Africa’s climate targets and policies as “Insufficient”. The “Insufficient” rating indicates that South Africa’s climate policies and commitments need substantial improvements to be consistent with the Paris Agreement’s 1.5°C temperature limit.

South Africa’s 2030 emissions reduction target is rated as “Insufficient” when compared to modelled domestic pathways, and “Highly insufficient” when compared with its fair-share contribution to climate action. South Africa’s targets and policies are not stringent enough to limit warming to 1.5°C. If fully implemented, South Africa’s current policies would result in emissions reductions only in line with 3°C warming.

In June 2021, the Presidential Climate Commission recommended that the country's NDC be strengthened to 350-420 MtCO2e (incl. LULUCF), see our analysis here for details. The lower end of this range proposed by the Presidential Climate Commission is close to being 1.5°C compatible.

The government has introduced several support programmes and emergency funds in direct response to the immediate COVID-19 health and economic crisis.

Prior to the pandemic, the South African Cabinet finally approved the long-awaited Integrated Resource Plan (IRP2019) in October 2019. The final plan marks a major shift in energy policy away from coal towards renewables, which is remarkable for a coal-dominated country like South Africa.

Policies & action
Almost Sufficient

We rate South Africa’s policies and actions as “Almost sufficient”. The “Almost sufficient” rating indicates that South Africa’s climate policies and action in 2030 are not yet consistent with the Paris Agreement’s 1.5°C temperature limit but could be, with moderate improvements. If all countries were to follow South Africa’s approach, warming could be held at—but not well below—2°C.

The full policies and action analysis can be found here.

Domestic target
Insufficient

We rate the proposed 2030 reduction target levels as “Insufficient” when compared modelled emissions pathways. The “Insufficient” rating indicates that South Africa’s domestic target in 2030 needs substantial improvements to be consistent with the Paris Agreement’s 1.5°C temperature limit. If all countries were to follow South Africa’s approach, warming would reach over 2°C and up to 3°C.

Our methods do not provide a clear answer for the need for finance for South Africa. On balance, the CAT methodology shows that provision of a small but important amount of international support is consistent with the wide range of literature on fair share contributions to meeting the Paris Agreement's goals. However, South Africa currently relies on foreign investments and international finance support to implement a large percentage of its climate change programmes, and government also emphasises in its NDC, that the implementation of its NDC will be enabled by financial support as specified in the Paris Agreement.

Fair share target
Highly insufficient

We rate South Africa’s 2030 NDC target as “Highly insufficient” when compared with its fair-share contribution to climate action. The “Highly insufficient” rating indicates that fair share target in 2030 leads to rising, rather than falling, emissions and is not at all consistent with the Paris Agreement’s 1.5°C temperature limit. If all countries were to follow South Africa’s approach, warming could reach over 3°C and up to 4°C.

CAT interprets the full NDC target as unconditional. As South Africa only needs to reach its upper end of the target range to fulfil the NDC, we rate that emissions level. If South Africa committed to meeting the lower end of its target range, the rating would change to “Almost sufficient” when compared to modelled domestic pathways, and to “Insufficient”, but close to the border to “Almost sufficient”, when compared to the fair share contribution.

Net zero target
Information incomplete

The CAT currently does not evaluate South Africa’s net zero target given the preliminary nature and a lack of more detailed information. The CAT will do so once further information will be communicated by the government.

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