South Africa

Critically Insufficient4°C+
World
NDCs with this rating fall well outside of a country’s “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 NDCs were in this range, warming would exceed 4°C. For sectors, the rating indicates that the target is consistent with warming of greater than 4°C if all other sectors were to follow the same approach.
Highly insufficient< 4°C
World
NDCs with this rating fall outside of a country’s “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 NDCs were in this range, warming would reach between 3°C and 4°C. For sectors, the rating indicates that the target is consistent with warming between 3°C and 4°C if all other sectors were to follow the same approach.
Insufficient< 3°C
World
NDCs with this rating are in the least stringent part of a country’s “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 NDCs were in this range, warming would reach over 2°C and up to 3°C. For sectors, the rating indicates that the target is consistent with warming over 2°C and up to 3°C if all other sectors were to follow the same approach.
2°C Compatible< 2°C
World
NDCs with this rating are consistent with the 2009 Copenhagen 2°C goal and therefore fall within a country’s “fair share” range, but are not fully consistent with the Paris Agreement long term temperature goal. If all government NDCs 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. For sectors, the rating indicates that the target is consistent with holding warming below, but not well below, 2°C if all other sectors were to follow the same approach.
1.5°C Paris Agreement Compatible< 1.5°C
World
This rating indicates that a government’s NDCs in the most stringent part of its “fair share” range: it is consistent with the Paris Agreement’s 1.5°C limit. For sectors, the rating indicates that the target is consistent with the Paris Agreement’s 1.5°C limit.
Role model<< 1.5°C
World
This rating indicates that a government’s NDC is more ambitious than what is considered a “fair” contribution: it is more than consistent with the Paris Agreement’s 1.5°C limit. No “role model” rating has been developed for the sectors.

Summary table

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).

2020 pledge

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.

Long-term goal

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).

Latest publications

Stay informed

Subscribe to our newsletter