South Africa will fail to reduce its emissions by 50% over pre-industrial levels by 2030

According to the Climate Action Tracker (CAT) rates, South Africa’s climate targets fail to reach the 2030 50% goal. This is because South Africa’s climate change policies and commitments must improve in order to meet the Paris Agreement of 1.5C° temperature limit.

South Africa’s electricity is mainly produced from coal. As a result, the country has a number of coal power stations, some being old and inefficient. Currently, South Africa faces many energy challenges, which has affected its economic growth, making it hard for the government to quickly close down coal power stations and shift to renewable energy. In addition, South Africa relies on liquid fuels generated from coal, such as gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel. This indicates a long way for South Africa to decommission coal power stations, hence a long way to achieve the 1.5C0 target.

Recently, South Africa has faced many climate change impacts, leaving communities stranded and infrastructure destroyed. Although the government faces various climate-related challenges, as a developing country, it prioritizes the elimination of poverty and eradicating inequality, not dealing with climate change.  During the last decade, South Africa has experienced low economic growth, resulting in high unemployment, poverty, and inequality apart from climate change impacts. South Africa is facing a rigid economy which acts as a drawback on policies, and efforts towards a low carbon and climate resilient society are not realized.

The government’s targets and policies also seem not to be strong enough to reduce warming to 1.5C°. This shows that South Africa’s climate change policies and efforts must be reconsidered to be consistent with the 1.5C° goal. Looking at the current policies, it is evident that South Africa will not be able to meet the NDC target goal for 2030. However, South Africa’s planned policies that are not yet implemented could improve things.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the government of South Africa had approved the Integrated Resource Plan (IRP 2019). The plan was to move towards renewable energy and decommissioning coal power stations (since 77% of electricity generation in South Africa is based on coal). However, implementing IRP 2019 and other policies like the Green Transport Strategy has yet to happen. Recently the government announced the Just Energy Transition Partnership (JETP), Industrial Policy Action Plans (IPAP), and the New Growth Path (NGP). If these policies and plans can be fully implemented, they will point South Africa in a positive direction toward reducing its emissions.

  2. South Africa’s First NDC, 2020/21 Update


This Post was submitted by Climate Scorecard South Africa Country Manager Rugare Zhou.


Climate Scorecard depends on support from people like you.

We are a team of researchers providing information on efforts to reduce global emissions. We help make you better informed and able to advocate for improved climate change efforts. Donations of any amount are welcome.