Pledges And Targets
Paris Agreement targets
South Africa’s NDC, 2020 pledge and long-term target are consistent with its long-term goal to constrain its emissions to follow a peak-plateau-decline (PPD) trajectory. Based on this, South Africa’s emissions should peak between 2020 and 2025 as reflected in the National Climate Change Response Policy, and submitted in the country’s NDC), plateau for approximately a decade and then decline in absolute terms, as shown in the red shaded range in the CAT’s South Africa graph in the overview section.
South Africa’s NDC targets an absolute emissions level in the range of 398–614 MtCO2e incl. LULUCF over the period 2025–2030 (Government of South Africa, 2016). Assuming LULUCF remains at the average level over 2000–2012 (-17 MtCO2e), this NDC translates to an emissions level of between 415–631 MtCO2e excluding LULUCF, equivalent to a 17–78% increase above 1990 levels excluding LULUCF. The NDC document does not specifically mention whether the emissions range is an unconditional target, but the CAT interprets it as such.
South Africa’s NDC is “premised on the adoption of a comprehensive, ambitious, fair, effective and binding multilateral rules-based agreement under the UNFCCC at the 21st conference of the Parties (COP21)” (Government of South Africa, 2016). It also highlights that equity, economic and social development and poverty eradication are South Africa’s top priorities.
In September 2019, President Ramaphosa announced the government would finalise a ‘Just Transition Plan’, “including defining a vision compatible with the 1.5 C Paris temperature goal”. He also confirmed South Africa will update its adaptation NDC and enhance its mitigation NDC by 2020 (Ramaphosa, 2019).
Under the Copenhagen Accord, South Africa committed to reduce emissions below BAU by 34% in 2020, and by 42% in 2025, incl. LULUCF (Government of South Africa, 2010). The emissions level (excluding LULUCF) derived from South Africa’s pledge is 415–600 MtCO2e in 2020 and 415–631 MtCO2e by 2025. This is in line with the Peak-Plateau-Decline pathway of 398 to 583 MtCO2e in 2030 incl. LULUCF. South Africa’s Copenhagen pledge is conditional on a fair, ambitious and effective agreement in the international climate change negotiations under the UNFCCC and the Kyoto Protocol and the provision of support from the international community.
South Africa aims to reduce GHG emissions to 212–428 MtCO2e by 2050 (incl. LULUCF) (Department of Environmental Affairs, 2018a; Government of South Africa, 2010). Excluding LULUCF, this long-term target is equivalent to 229–445 MtCO2e, according to CAT calculations (details see assumptions section).
South Africa is in the process of finalising its Low Emission Development Strategy (LEDS) 2050, which will be submitted to the UNFCCC in 2020. However, the draft LEDS does not specify any additional quantified target for 2050 (Department of Environmental Affairs, 2018c).