South Africa Emissions Reduction Policy

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South Africa: National Climate Change Response Policy White Paper (NCCRP)

South Africa launched its National Climate Change Response Policy White Paper (NCCRP) in 2011, prior to hosting the 17th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 17) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Durban.

The NCCRP was approved by its Cabinet in October 2011 (Gazette No. 34695, Notice No. 757, 19 October 2011). This White Paper is South Africa’s first policy focusing specifically on climate change

The White Paper represents the culmination of an iterative and participatory policy development process that was started in October 2005. The White Paper is founded on section 24 of the Constitution protecting the right to a healthy environment, and supporting the objectives of the National Environmental Management Plan (NEMA), the National Development Plan and international instruments to which South Africa has agreed, such as the Millennium Declaration and the UNFCCC.

The Department of Environmental Affairs delivered presentations on the developments that lead toward the NCCRP and on the strategies outlined in the policy. South Africa had signed the Kyoto Protocol in 2002. Subsequently, in 2005, a ground-breaking climate change conference was held which yielded a Long-Term Mitigation Scenarios process. This process outlined two major scenarios: growth without constraints and required by science and then modeled the results of different strategies to close the gap between the two scenarios. Carbon pricing was found to be the most effective strategy overall. A draft Green Paper was published in November 2010 and went through a wide consultative process with stakeholder participation and review which saw 4,000 issues raised. The White Paper was published on 19 October 2011.

The NCCRP provides an overarching policy framework for facilitating a just transition to a low carbon, climate resilient economy. It presents the South African government’s vision for an effective climate change response and has two objectives:

  • Effectively manage climate change impacts through interventions that build and sustain South Africa’s social, economic and environmental resilience and emergency response capacity; and
  • Contribute fairly to the global effort of stabilizing GHG concentrations.

The policy provides for the use of incentives and disincentives (or penalties), including regulatory, economic and fiscal measures.

To monitor the success of responses to climate change and to replicate those that will be proven to work well, Environmental Minister Edna Molewa said there was the need to measure the cost, outcome and impact of such responses. To that end, a Climate Change Response Measurement and Evaluation System (MRV) was formulated. The NCCRP frames MRV in terms of ‘Monitoring and Evaluation’, which is a function established in the Presidency, headed by a Minister in the highest political office.

The Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) was the main architect of this policy framework, with support from various industries and stakeholders.

It could be argued that the driving force pushing South Africa into renewable energy policies was not a result of a major commitment to addressing the issues of climate change. Rather, the change in the renewable energy policy debate was triggered by a crisis in the supply of electricity. This was a result of the load shedding (or rolling blackouts) initiated by the power utility, Eskom, in 2008 and again in 2014.

Notwithstanding that production costs of non-renewable energy fall each year, renewable energy in South Africa still requires an enabling environment to become even more competitive relative to traditional energy sources. In its White Paper on the Renewable Energy Policy, the South African government recognizes that the development of fiscal, financial, and legislative instruments will be required to stimulate the increased use of renewable energy technologies. One such fiscal instrument is South Africa’s proposed carbon tax, which is likely to come into effect during 2017 (although further delays could ensue).

Learn More

The NCCRP is available at:
For more background on climate change in South Africa and some measures to promote environmental sustainability, see,%20energy%20and%20the%20environment%20workshop.pdf
For a discussion of the political economy of renewable energy in South Africa, read
To learn more about South Africa’s approaches to measuring, reporting and verifying, see
The White Paper on the Renewable Energy Policy of the Republic of South Africa is available at:
For a brief account of the launch of the NCCRP, see


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