Minister Edna Molewa on the commitment of the South African Government to move towards a lower-carbon economy and society

1 December 2011

The South African government is committed to building the climate resilience of the country, its economy and its people and to managing the transition to a climate-resilient, equitable and internationally competitive lower-carbon economy and society in a manner that simultaneously addresses South Africa’s over-riding national priorities for sustainable development, job creation, improved public and environmental health, poverty eradication, and social equality.

In 2008, in the context of South Africa’s moral and legal obligation to make a fair contribution to the global mitigation effort under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and its Kyoto Protocol, the South African Cabinet fully considered the Long Term Mitigation Scenario (LTMS) study of the country’s mitigation potential. This informed the announcement that South Africa will implement mitigation actions that will collectively result in a 34% and a 42% deviation below its ‘Business As Usual’ emissions growth trajectory by 2020 and 2025 respectively.

This undertaking also informed South Africa’s Climate Change Response Policy that has since been gazetted. The Policy commits that South Africa will:

·Effectively manage inevitable climate change impacts through interventions that build and sustain South Africa’s social, economic and environmental resilience and emergency response capacity.

·Make a fair contribution to the global effort to stabilise GHG concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that avoids dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system within a timeframe that enables economic, social and environmental development to proceed in a sustainable manner.

In addition to the direct physical impacts of climate change, the policy also notes that there are also secondary economic impacts where South Africa may be economically or socially vulnerable to the impact of climate change related response measures – i.e. measures taken by others or ourselves to reduce Green House Gas (GHG) emissions, either internationally or nationally, that have negative economic or social consequences for South African economic sectors, jobs, welfare or even at local community level.

Section 7 of the Climate Change Response Policy, notes that Government will take a multi-pronged approach to addressing and managing response measures, especially in respect of those that may have negative consequences. It is also worth noting that this policy has not been developed in a vacuum as many sectors, organisations and companies are already developing or implementing climate change related action. The scaling up and of these existing initiatives as well as the immediate development and roll-out of new proven so-called “no regret”  policies and measures are an integral part of this White Paper.

Even though South Africa is a relatively significant contributor to global climate change with significant GHG emission levels from its energy-intensive, fossil-fuel powered economy it has committed itself to a number of Near-term Priority Flagship Programmes to be implemented as an integral part of the policy including:

The Renewable Energy Flagship Programme which is inclusive of a scaled-up renewable energy programme, based on the current programme specified in the IRP 2010 and using, for example, the evolving South African Renewables Initiative led by the Department of Public Enterprise and Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), as a driver for the deployment of renewable energy technologies. The programme will be informed by enhanced domestic manufacturing potential and the implementation of energy efficiency and renewable energy plans by local government.

Furthermore, the Department of Energy’s (DoE) solar water heating programme will be expanded through, amongst others, the promotion of the domestic supply of products for solar heating with support from the DTI to build local manufacturing capacity.

The Energy Efficiency and Energy Demand Management Flagship Programme where the DoE will continue to develop and facilitate an aggressive energy efficiency programme in industry, building on the experience of Eskom’s Demand Side Management programme and the DTI’s National Cleaner Production Centre, and covering non-electricity energy efficiency as well. A structured programme will be established with appropriate initiatives, incentives and regulation, and a well-resourced information collection and dissemination process.

A residential energy efficiency programme will also be included, consisting of two parts:

·The development of appropriate initiatives, incentives and regulations will be finalised by the DoE and the DTI. Furthermore, the development of energy specifications for low-income housing will be determined through the National Sustainable Settlements Facility under the Department of Human Settlements.

·Regulation of commercial and residential building standards to enforce green building construction practices. The National Regulator for Compulsory Specifications in conjunction with the National Home Builders Registration Council will ensure that building construction and operation conform to green building requirements, including measures such as controlled ventilation, using recycled material, solar power, etc.

A government building energy efficiency programme led by the Department of Public Works that initiates energy and emissions audits of all government buildings and facilities will be developed. It will `develop comparable indicators and benchmarks, and make appropriate interventions. The programme will include lead programmes for key government buildings, including Parliament and the main government buildings in Pretoria. Ambitious goals for energy efficiency will be set for all new government buildings.

Finally, the Carbon Capture and Sequestration Flagship Programme led by the DoE in partnership with the South African Energy Research Institute, that includes, among other initiatives, the development of a Carbon Capture and Sequestration Demonstration Plant to store the process emissions from an existing high carbon emissions facility.

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