South Africa Survey

Climate change is viewed by South Africans as the top international threat to national security (ranking at 59%).

During spring 2017, the US based Pew Research Center conducted a public opinion poll among 38 countries regarding eight possible threats to national security.

It is evident from the graph above that climate change is viewed by South Africans as the top international threat (ranking at 59%).

This high-level view of the general sentiment among South Africans is supported by a recent survey (30 March 2017 to 26 April 2017) by professional services firm, PWC. The GHG Market Sentiment Survey was conducted with 135 respondents from the International Emissions Trading Association (IETA) member representatives from a broad range of locations and organization types. Their findings indicate that climate change action in South Africa “is a must for corporates and policymakers”. Indeed, 77% of respondents viewed climate change as a priority for their board.

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Survey conducted by PEW:
IETA market sentiment survey:

South Africa Strategies

South Africa: (1) South Africa needs to strengthen its Paris Agreement pledge; (2) Stronger implementation of the Integrated Resource Electricity Plan is needed; (3) The National Treasury should provide more clarity on the start date of the carbon tax.

South Africa pledged to peak its GHG emissions by 2025, plateau for approximately a decade, and then decline in absolute terms (the PPD trajectory Climate Action Tracker regards South Africa’s INDC as inadequate. This is due to their projection for South Africa’s emissions under current policies following an increasing trend, with emissions (excl. LULUCF) in 2020 and 2025 expected to increase by 110% and 141%, respectively, from 1990 levels (excl. LULUCF).

The Integrated Resource Electricity Plan (IRP) 2010–2030 aims to more than triple the installed renewable capacity to 17.8 GW by 2030. One program emanating from the IRP is the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme (REIPPPP). This program has tremendous potential, but is hampered by stalling tactics from South Africa’s only power utility, Eskom. Despite 6.4GW of renewable energy already having been procured under the REIPPP, and all bidding rounds significantly over-subscribed – Eskom is refusing to sign further agreements. This is hardly surprising, as Eskom owns the majority of the country’s coal-fired power plants. The Department of Energy (which plays an oversight role of the state-owned entity) should ensure that Eskom honors the commitments made under the REIPPP.

A carbon tax was set to come into effect during 2017, but its implementation has been indefinitely delayed. While the full carbon tax rate is proposed to be R120/tCO2e (US$8/tCO2e), after exemptions, the effective tax rate will be between R6–48/tCO2e (US$0.4–3/tCO2e). The carbon tax aims to effect behavioral change amongst CO2 emitters, but it faces several setbacks and opposition from industry. South Africa’s National Treasury should provide more clarity as to the start date of the carbon tax.

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South Africa’s INDC:

Climate Action Tracker’s rating:

WWF South Africa statement regarding the INDC:

Integrated Resource Plan:

South Africa Renewable Energy

South Africa—NO 100% 2050 commitment
Benchmark: The construction of 37.4 GW of wind capacity and 17.6 GW of solar photovoltaic capacity by 2050

The electricity sector is the highest contributor to GHG emissions in South Africa. With blackouts experienced in 2008, and more looming as a constant threat, proper planning for the country’s energy security is essential to meeting overall economic growth targets. Yet, at the same time, the country has to honor its commitments made under the Paris Agreement. To that end, the Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) is the official government plan for new electricity generation capacity. The latest draft update, IRP2016, makes far-reaching proposals about the energy mix until 2050. The draft version was open for public comment and has not yet come into effect. The plan advocates the following likely scenarios, known as the ‘base case’:

  • Electricity demand will be between 310 and 355 TWh in 2030 (about 100 TWh lower than envisaged in the previous plan) with demand rising to between 390 and 530 TWh in 2050.
  • The construction of 37.4 GW of wind capacity and 17.6 GW of solar photovoltaic capacity between 2020 and 2050.
  • The gradual decommissioning of most existing coal power stations by 2050 in line with international carbon emission agreements.
  • A substantial increase (35.3 GW) in electricity generation from gas. Due to the high cost of gas it is generally used only as a backup.
  • The construction of just over 20 GW of nuclear power. But this would only gradually come on line between 2037 and 2050.

The draft IRP2016 has come under tremendous criticism, with some commentators calling it ‘lightweight and superficial’. Also, there are a number of glaring errors and omissions from the gazetted policy. The state-owned power utility, Eskom, is disgruntled about the proposed delay in increasing nuclear capability and has threatened to ignore key recommendations in the IRP2016. On the other hand, renewable energy proponents argue that the plan does not take into account the considerable cost-savings that can be realized with these green technologies in the next 20 to 30 years.

One program that could become a game-changer in the pursuit of renewable energy is the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Program (REIPPPP), which was discussed in a previous Climate Scorecard report. The REIPPP is an auction program tasked with deploying 18,800 MW of renewable energy by 2030. If run properly, it shows much potential in harnessing the country’s abundant solar and wind power. The challenge will be in ensuring that Eskom does not renege on signing the necessary contracts with independent power producers.
There are many developing country leaders who understand the severity of climate change. One example is the Climate Vulnerable Forum (CVF), where several African countries pledged to achieve 100% renewable energy between 2030 and 2050. Regrettably, South Africa is not a member of this forum and is lagging behind in implementing the necessary policies to adequately reduce our GHG emissions.

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For a critique of the draft IRP2016, see:
The original IRP2010 is available here:
The draft IRP2016 can be accessed here:

South Africa Success Project

South Africa—The Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme (REIPPP)

The Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme (REIPPPP) is a climate change flagship program that was introduced in 2011. Jointly launched by the Department of Energy, the National Energy Regulator of South Africa (NERSA), and state-owned power utility Eskom, the REIPPPP aims to encourage private investment to help further develop the renewable energy sector within South Africa.

The country has plenty of sun and wind throughout the year. This, together with the availability of large open tracts of land, provides South Africa with a huge potential to take advantage of renewable energy. The national renewable energy target is for 18,800MW to be supplied by renewable energy by 2030. In just four years, the REIPPPP alone has already delivered 5,243 MW throughout 79 different projects, which accounts for over a quarter of the target. The REIPPPP covers a variety of renewable energy technologies: onshore wind, solar PV, concentrated solar power, landfill gas, biomass, small hydro and biogas.

Figure 1: Renewable Energy power plants in South Africa

REIPPPP provides a grant-based mechanism for encouraging renewable energy production. The main evaluation criterion for the bid selection process is pricing, which carries a 70% weighting. Other factors, such as job creation, local content, and black economic empowerment, weights 30%. This encourages joint ventures with local renewable energy companies, as well as a number of foreign firms to set up local factories that cater for export. Funding is provided through a variety of foreign private equity, local private equity, and large commercial and development banks.

All winning bidders get a 20-year power purchase agreement with Eskom, backed by government guarantees that already total more than R200 billion (approximately Euro 14 billion). The government guarantees are crucial to the success of the program because they make the projects automatically bankable and fundable.

The REIPPPP is lauded by many as one of the most successful independent power producer programs in the renewables space globally. Moreover, it is designed to develop socio-economic and environmentally sustainable growth.

South Africa’s INDC Paris Agreement pledge aims at reducing GHG emissions to between 398 and 615 MtCO2e (including LULUCF), over the period 2025 to 2030. This is consistent with its pledge under the Copenhagen Accord, which proposes emissions reductions below business-as-usual levels by 34% in 2020 and 42% in 2025. Because the REIPPPP is aimed at stimulating the renewable energy sector in South Africa, it can greatly contribute towards decarbonizing the country’s economy and reaching the Paris Agreement commitments.

Learn More

Guide to the Independent Power Producer process:
How this Public-Private partnerships works:

South Africa Checkup

South Africa—Falling Behind

The South African government has not made much progress in promulgating legislation to tackle carbon emissions. Its most important policy instrument—the carbon tax—has been on the table for a decade. No date is set for its implementation. South Africa’s power utility, Eskom, is the largest CO2 emitter in the country, because it is so coal intensive. Once its latest coal-fired power station (named Medupi) is completed, it will release more carbon than the whole of Kenya.

A prominent scientific research body concluded that South Africa could ‘decarbonize its electricity sector without pain’ as ‘clean and cheap are no longer trade-offs’. However, the Department of Energy has come under criticism for seemingly inflating the costs of renewable energy and their belief that a rapid shift to renewables will collapse the energy grid.

On September 25, 2015, South Africa submitted its INDC, which included a target of reducing GHG emissions to between 398 and 615 MtCO2e, over the period 2025 to 2030. South Africa ratified the Paris Agreement on November 1, 2016. The country’s INDC is consistent with its pledge under the Copenhagen Accord, which proposes emissions reductions below business-as-usual (BAU) levels by 34% in 2020 and 42% in 2025.
Notwithstanding that the South African INDC assumes the finalization of an ‘ambitious, fair, effective and binding’ multilateral agreement under the UNFCCC at COP21, it also highlights that economic and social development and poverty eradication are South Africa’s top priorities. However, South Africa’s commitment could be considered as ‘inadequate’ in reaching the 2°C pathway. Although South Africa is a developing country, it has comparatively high emissions per capita. Consequently, the country’s emissions reduction target should be strengthened.

Because of South Africa’s very slow pace in implementing a domestic carbon tax and aggressively pursuing renewable energy programs, it is ranked as ‘standing still’. There is clearly a lot of work that remains to be done.

Learn More

South Africa’s INDC is available at:
The Climate Action Tracker rankings are available at, accessed 29 March 2017.
See: Sipho Kings ‘Greening the Future 2017: How you can save the world’ at
See David Hallows ‘Death and destruction: What’s left out of energy planning’ at

South Africa Emission Reduction Policy

The Draft Carbon Tax Bill

The proposal for a carbon tax in South Africa was first made in 2007. After lengthy public consultation processes and debates, the National Treasury introduced the Carbon Tax Bill in 2015. The implementation of the Bill has been delayed numerous times. It was set to come into effect during 2017, but it is likely that further delays might ensue.

The Bill is designed to encourage emission-reduction activities in certain sectors, through placing a price on carbon. This price on carbon acts as a signal that incentivizes behavioral change and makes emission reduction projects more attractive. The planned carbon tax is aimed at achieving South Africa’s ambitious Paris Agreement commitments to reduce GHG emissions by 34% by 2020 and 42% by 2025.
It is anticipated that the carbon tax will come into effect in a phased manner at a marginal rate of R120 per ton CO2 emissions. Persons who conduct various activities in the manufacturing, construction, mining and transport sectors will be affected. It will likely be implemented with complementary measures, for example a reduction in the electricity levy, and carbon offsets which firms can use to reduce their carbon tax liability.

Learn More

The Carbon Tax Discussion Paper can be read at:

The Draft Carbon Tax Bill is available at:

South Africa Extreme Weather Event

Severe Country-Wide Drought

The current drought, which started in the summer of 2014, is the third-driest for South Africa as a whole since the early 1930s when the country was hit by a historic drought in the midst of the Great Depression. The severity of the current drought has been aggravated by an El Nino, a weather pattern which decreases moisture in the sub-Saharan region.

Many financial hubs in the country, including Cape Town and Johannesburg, had to impose water restrictions on residents. Dry conditions last year cut South Africa’s maize crop by a third. South African livestock farmers were urged by the government to cut the size of their herds as drought conditions suck moisture out of grazing land.


The continued low rainfall resulted in very dry conditions with drought being reported in all nine provinces of the country. As a result, eight of the provinces were declared as disaster areas, thereby authorising the release of crucial funds to assist farmers. However, it recently came to light in Parliament that more than R380 million (about US$28.6 million) which could have been used to assist farmers during the drought, has not been spent. This is due to mismanagement by the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, which had not informed any stakeholders that the money was still available.

Other support provided to affected communities and farmers included the identification of land for relocation of livestock‚ revitalisation of feedlots‚ auction sales of livestock‚ provision of feed and water for livestock‚ support to small-holder farmers and sugar cane farmers and the creation of firebreaks. Fodder banks were established in rural areas and animal feed was delivered to farmers as part of efforts to maintain livestock.

On March 5, 2017, the mayor declared the City of Cape Town a disaster area, in order to respond more rapidly by mobilising staff and resources to deal with the crisis. The city’s dwindling water supply is predicted to run out in little more than 100 days if dam levels and water consumption remain unchanged. The critically low water supply was further put under pressure by wildfires in the Western Cape area, caused by the dry and windy summer season.

Future Actions

South Africa is a water-stressed country and is on an economic growth pathway that is very water intensive. In order to meet the increased water and food demands of a growing population, a collective effort by government, farmers and private industry is required. We have to learn best-practices from other drought-challenged countries in adapting to the ever-worsening weather conditions.

Learn More

For ongoing updates on the current drought in South Africa, see:

The South African Water Research Commission supports sustainable water development:

The Weather Service provides information on the types of droughts that South Africa experiences:

To understand more about the impact of the current drought on the South African economy, see:

South Africa Subnational Best Practices


KwaZulu-Natal—The Durban Adaptation Charter (DAC) commits Local Governments to local climate action in their jurisdiction that will assist their communities to respond to and cope with climate change risks. By signing the Durban Adaptation Charter they commit to inter alia:
1.    Key information of all local government development planning;
2.    Ensuring that adaptation strategies are aligned with mitigation strategies;
3.    Promoting the use of adaptation that recognizes the needs of vulnerable communities and ensuring sustainable local economic development;
4.    Prioritizing the role of functioning ecosystems as core municipal green infrastructure;
5.    Seeking innovative funding mechanisms.

To aid in the implementation of the DAC, a Central KwaZulu-Natal Climate Change Compact (CKZNCCC) was formed to facilitate information sharing and collaboration on climate change adaptation projects. As the metropolitan, district and local municipalities of central KwaZulu-Natal are signatories to the Durban Adaptation Charter they have committed themselves to take local climate action in their jurisdiction.

Dr. Sean O’Donoghue
Telephone: +27 31 322 4304

Gauteng—The Gauteng Climate Adaptation Forum is an avenue for cities in the province to hone their skills and cross-pollinate ideas in climate change adaptation for sustainable development and the wellbeing of their residents. The focus is especially on the urban poor (such as residents of informal settlements) who bear the brunt of climate change in developing countries. The forum also aims to promote coordination of climate change issues amongst institutions.

The forum provides a platform for sharing experiences, practical approaches and frameworks relating to climate change adaptation. Membership includes representatives from civil society, government, parastatals, academia and business.

Rina Taviv
Telephone: +27 11 240 2700



Cape Town—Atlantis is a town in the City of Cape Town Metropolitan Municipality and is located in the Western Cape. GreenCape is a  local non-profit organisation which was established in 2010 and aims to unlock the investment potential of green business, technologies and manufacturing.

The GreenCape initiative has undertaken the project management on behalf of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), the Western Cape Government and the City of Cape Town in the application for the designation of a GreenTech Special Economic Zone (SEZ) in Atlantis. The term ‘Greentech’ refers to low-carbon and resource-efficient technologies. This SEZ has the potential to create 2,500 direct jobs, while also contributing to environmental efforts. For companies operating within an SEZ, significant tax breaks are offered.

Telephone: +27 21 811 0250

South Africa Leaders and Opponents

Government Official
Dr. Edna Molewa
Minister of Environmental Affairs

The Department of Environmental Affairs, under the leadership of Minister Molewa, was the main architect of South Africa’s leading climate change policy document, the National Climate Change Response Policy White Paper, launched in 2011. Minister Molewa signed the Paris Agreement at the United Nations in New York on 22 April 2016, on behalf of the South African Government.

Her pragmatic approach to climate change adaptation is laudable. One example of her no-nonsense attitude is where she stated (when South Africa ratified the Paris Agreement on 2 November 2016), that, “it was clear that the only choice for humanity is to take ambitious and practical action, through reducing greenhouse gas emissions, preparing for extreme events, and adapting to the impacts of climate change.”

Contact:  (Chief of Staff)

Climate Program Advocate
Adv Andrew Gilder
Senior Associate at ENSafrica Law Firm

Andrew Gilder is an admitted attorney of the South African High Court and specializes in carbon markets and climate change law and policy. He serves on various environmental associations. Related to his work on climate change, Andrew is involved in air quality legal issues in South Africa and the operationalization of the National Environmental Management: Air Quality Act, as well as the domestic legal regime for power generation. He regularly presents at climate conferences and seminars, and recently urged the East African community to invest in projects aimed at reducing greenhouse emissions.


Climate Program Opponent
Mr. Ivo Vegter
Independent Columnist

Ivo is an outspoken environmental journalist and the author of Extreme Environment, a book on ‘environmental exaggeration and how it harms emerging economies’. He has written controversial columns on climate change, e.g. ‘Paris Climate Conference is a waste of time and money’ and he views climate change as ‘pseudo-science’.


South Africa Leading Research Study

Research Study:  “The Long Term Mitigation Scenarios Research Project”, South Africa Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism, coordinated by Professor Harold Winkler, 2005 and 2008

The Long Term Mitigation Scenarios (LTMS) Research Project took place in South Africa between 2005 and 2008. It is remembered as a ‘seminal and resounding success’, because it successfully placed climate change mitigation on the formal domestic policy agenda. The LTMS project was a Cabinet-mandated process led by the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism (DEA).

At a technical level, LTMS was a unique blend of facilitated stakeholder process and rigorous research. It was implemented using a scenario-building team, composed of strategic thinkers from government, business and civil society. The scenario team was informed by four research groups, coordinated by Professor Harald Winkler of the Energy Research Centre (ERC) at the University of Cape Town (UCT).

The credibility of the study came from the robustness of data and analysis. The study drew on strong local academic institutions and stakeholder engagement. At the time there was limited experience of analyzing national mitigation options. However, it was recognized that key to the success of the LTMS was its use of a process to accumulate information on available options, analyze them in a consultative way and to present the results in such a manner as to be helpful to policy makers.

The LTMS approach drew on international best practice, notably a report written by the United Nations, titled Economics of Greenhouse Gas Limitation: Technical Guidelines.

The LTMS answered a highly relevant question at the time when little was known about the scale of the climate change problem in South Africa and the options to address it. A broad technical research team was established, consisting of about 30 researchers from different institutions. This broad collaborative approach provided the best available scientific data on energy, emissions and economic impacts. The research teams gathered large amounts of data to conduct modeling and assessments. The LTMS developed national and sub-national adaptation scenarios for South Africa under plausible future climate conditions and development pathways. The LTMS was the first interpretation of international climate mitigation policy in a domestic developing country context.

The LTMS team explored a wide range of detailed mitigation actions and proposals for four strategic options that South Africa can pursue. The LTMS process design centered around two ‘outer’ scenarios, called ‘envelopes’. The first is the Growth Without Constraints (GWC) Scenario, which is a ‘no action’ scenario with a projection that GHG emissions will rise dramatically. The fourth scenario is purely notional, showing what would happen if we restrained the economy towards an emission target required by climate science in order to stabilize the climate—known as the Required by Science (RBS) scenario. To address the gap between the GWC and RBS scenarios, the researchers identified technology, market and policy actions which could be implemented by government. These second and third scenarios comprised the current development plans to increase growth, but with some emission reduction efforts. Refer to Figure 1 for a depiction of the scenarios.

Figure 1: The gap in GHG emissions in the four scenarios


Source: Case studies available at:

Unfortunately, almost a decade later, it is apparent that the LTMS was not successfully integrated into the policy agenda of departments other than its champion, the DEA. Another limiting factor is that the LTMS occurred in a time of a ‘domestic policy vacuum’, which resulted in a lack of momentum to sustain its implementation. It should also be borne in mind that South Africa’s economy is very reliant upon coal based energy and energy-intensive mineral extraction. This arguably causes powerful push-back and resistance towards proposals for a low carbon transition.

Learn More

Mitigation Action Plans and Scenarios (MAPS) is a collaboration amongst developing countries to establish the evidence base for long-term transition to robust economies that are both carbon efficient and climate resilient. See:

For a summary of the various phases of the LTMS research project, visit:

The detailed technical report comprising the Long Term Mitigation Scenarios which was prepared for the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism in 2007 is available at:

The National Climate Change Response Policy White Paper (NCCRP) is available at:

For more in-depth reports related to energy and the LTMS, see UCT’s Energy Research Centre documents at: