SA proposes tightening 2030 greenhouse gas emission targets

SA proposes tightening 2030 greenhouse gas emission targets

The government on Tuesday released a revised climate change policy document for public comment, significantly reducing the upper limit target for harmful carbon emissions seen over the next decade, senior officials said.

The draft Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) document, which updates a 2015 study, outlines the mitigation, adaptation and financing policies Africa’s worst polluter and most industrialised country will pursue. Once finalised, the NDC will be deposited at the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change before November.

A key new policy proposal shows greenhouse gas emission targets will likely be in the  range of 398 million metric tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (MTCO2e) to 510 million MTCO2e in 2025, and in a range of 398-440 million MTCO2e by 2030.

“Both the 2025 and 2030 targets are consistent with SA’s fair share [to global mitigation efforts] and also an ambitious improvement on our current NDC target,” said Maesela Kekana, international climate change negotiator at the department of environmental affairs.

In the previous study, the government pledged the upper limit as 614 million MTCO2e by 2025 and a similar amount by 2030. Greenhouse emissions were expected to peak between 2020 and 2025 then plateau for a decade before declining in absolute terms thereafter.

“When it comes to the 2030 target, this translates into a 28% reduction from the 2015 target, so it is quite a significant improvement,” Kekana said.

He said SA needs to access around $8bn (about R120bn) in financing each year - quadruple the amount it sourced before - until 2030 for its mitigation and adaptation initiatives to succeed.

A water-scarce country with large coal reserves, most of SA’s emissions derive from energy production, with about 80% of the country’s electricity generated by ageing coal-fired power stations.

SA has already introduced a carbon tax and intends to decommission several coal-fired power plants by 2030 as it diversifies its energy mix to include solar and wind projects.