- Countries Pledge Funding to Help South Africa Reduce Its Reliance on Coal
- Passage of a National Climate Change Bill
- Near Completion of 2 New Coal-Fired Power Plants
- South Africa’s New Paris Agreement Pledge Is Insufficient
South Africa is the world’s 12th largest carbon dioxide emitter . In 2021, the following events took place, and these will affect the level of greenhouse gas emissions in the country.
At the COP26 in Glasgow, the US, UK, France, Germany, and the EU pledged to give South Africa $8.5 billion dollars to assist the country in reducing its reliance on coal . This is a game-changing event that can assist the country in gradually closing down its coal-fired power stations and transitioning to renewable sources of energy, thus leading to a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. The Department of Mineral Resources and Energy will need to play a major role in monitoring the progress of South Africa’s transition to clean energy. Regular tracking of renewable energy projects and coal-fired power plants and monitoring of national greenhouse gas emissions need to be done in order to determine the impact of this funding on South Africa’s emissions.
National Climate Change Bill
South Africa published its National Climate Change Bill on 11 October 2021 . This Bill requires the Minister of Forestry, Fisheries, and Environmental Affairs to publish a list of greenhouse gases which the Minister reasonably believes cause or are likely to cause or exacerbate climate change, to publish a list of greenhouse gas emitting activities, and to allocate a carbon budget to any individual who produces one or more of the listed greenhouse gas emitting activities [2, 3]. This Bill is likely to reduce emissions in South Africa as organizations will need to reduce their own emissions and transition to a green economy. The Minister of Forestry, Fisheries and Environmental Affairs will need to monitor the impact of this Bill on South Africa’s emissions.
Medupi and Kusile Projects
Medupi coal-fired power station, with a total installed capacity of 4764 MW was completed in mid-2021. Kusile, with a total installed capacity of 4800 MW is currently under construction. Kusile consists of 6 Units, with one of the Units coming into full operation in March 2021. Kusile and Medupi are the 3rd and 4th largest coal power plants in the world, and they are both expected to have an operational life span of 50 years [4, 5]. The annual greenhouse gas emissions from Kusile are projected to be 36.8 million tons, and this would increase the emissions from South Africa’s energy sector by 12.8% . The annual carbon dioxide emissions from Medupi are projected to be between 25 and 30 million tons . These two new coal power plants will increase the level of greenhouse gas emissions in South Africa. Eskom, which is South Africa’s electric utility, would need to monitor emissions and plan a way forward to transition to clean sources of energy.
Under South Africa’s latest Paris Agreement Pledge, the country aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 398 – 510 MtCO2e by 2025, and to 350-420 MtCO2e by 2030, and to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050 . The Climate Change Bill and foreign investment are expected to assist in reducing emissions in South Africa. However, it has been claimed that these targets are still not enough to achieve the 1.5 degree Celsius global warming goal and are only enough to achieve a 2 degree Celsius global warming goal . Thus, South Africa needs to make a faster transition to clean energy by implementing more renewable energy projects on a larger scale and by decommissioning old coal power plants.
- Mkhize, V. 2021. BBC News. COP26: South Africa hails deal to end reliance on coal. https://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-59135169 [Accessed December 2021].
- Parker, M. 2021. South Africa: Carbon Tax: Summary Of Selected Recent Developments. https://www.mondaq.com/southafrica/tax-authorities/1128220/carbon-tax-summary-of-selected-recent-developments [Accessed December 2021].
- Republic of South Africa: Climate Change Bill. https://www.dffe.gov.za/sites/default/files/docs/2021_draft_climatechangebill.pdf [Accessed December 2021].
- Medupi coal power plant South Africa. 2021. https://www.banktrack.org/project/medupi_coal_power_plant/pdf#:~:text=Climate%20change-,At%20full%20capacity%2C%20the%20Medupi%20plant%20is%20projected%20to%20emit,450%20million%20tonnes%20per%20year. [Accessed December 2021].
- The Kusile Power Station Project, South Africa. 2021. https://www.power-technology.com/projects/kusilepowerstation/ [Accessed December 2021].
- South African Kusile Coal Fired Power Project Fact sheet. https://www.banktrack.org/download/kusile_power_project_factsheet/kusile_power_project_factsheet.pdf [Accessed December 2021].
- World Resources Institute. 2021. STATEMENT: South Africa’s Climate Commitment Much More Ambitious Than Before. https://www.wri.org/news/statement-south-africas-climate-commitment-much-more-ambitious [Accessed December 2021].
- Climate Home News. 2021. On expert advice, South Africa cuts its 2030 emissions cap by a third. https://www.climatechangenews.com/2021/09/28/expert-advice-south-africa-cuts-2030-emissions-cap-third/ [Accessed December 2021].
This Post was submitted by Climate Scorecard South Africa Country Manager Deepti Charitar