South Africa Aspires To Be Carbon Neutral By 2050

South Africa Aspires To Be Carbon Neutral By 2050

This Post was submitted by Climate Scorecard South Africa Country Manager Andrew John Hall

According to Climate Action Tracker (2020), in 2017 South Africa emitted 556.4 megatons of carbon dioxide (MtCO2). In 2017, in comparison to 1990 in which the emission of CO2 was 354.7MtCO2, an increase of ~36 % of GHGs was emitted in just under 30 years. South Africa has proposed in its Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) 2020, to reduce GHG emissions in the range of 398 MtCO2 to 440 MtCO2 by the year 2030. The upper range of the proposed 2030 target range represents a 28% reduction in GHG emissions from the 2015 NDC targets.

The long term decarbonisation of the country’s economy will focus primarily on the electricity sector in the 2020s, as South Africa is heavily dependent on the burning of coal for the generation of electricity. To achieve this, South Africa has set out a very ambitious power sector investment plan as discussed in the 2019 Integrated Resource Plan, the Green Transport Strategy, enhanced energy efficiency programmes, and the recently implemented carbon tax.

In the 2030s, a deeper transition will occur in the electricity sector and this will be coupled with a transition in the transport sector towards vehicles with lower GHG emissions. Additionally, the 2040s and beyond will be characterised by the decarbonisation of the ‘hard-to-mitigate sectors.’

South Africa aspires to be carbon neutral by 2050 through the Low Emissions Development Strategy (LEDS), which is considered the beginning of the country ultimately reaching a net zero economy by 2050. The strategy is a response to the Paris Agreement’s call for countries to set out long-term climate strategies. The strategy focuses on measures that are currently being implemented by government to address mitigation across four key sectors of the economy: energy; industry; agriculture, forestry and other land use, and waste.

Learn More References

Climate Action Tracker, Country Assessments September 2020 –


Deputy Director-General Climate Change and Air Quality Management: Dr Thulie N Khumalo


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