South Africa’s Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) on Friday confirmed that it expected to submit the Climate Change White Paper to Parliament by June 2011. DEA climate and energy special adviser, Mark Gordon, stated that the department has received over 5 000 comments on the draft green paper, which was released in November 2010 and that the DEA was processing these and refining the draft paper. One of the major issues arising from the comment process and the Parliamentary hearings into the green paper, was the need for clearer sectoral targets in industries such as transport, waste, agriculture and forestry and water. The White Paper would inform the country’s climate change policy, and the DEA has previously indicated that it would have a legislative, regulatory and fiscal package dealing with climate change by 2012.
South Africa hosts the global climate change negotiations in Durban at the end of this year, and it was expected that the country would fast-track its environmental policies that were in the pipeline so that it could showcase these at the conference. The green paper policy statement said that, in achieving its climate change response objectives, South Africa would ensure “the prioritisation of mitigation interventions that significantly contribute to a peak, plateau and decline emission trajectory, where greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions peak in 2020 to 2025 at 34% and 42% respectively below a business as usual (BAU) baseline, plateau to 2035 and begin declining in absolute terms from 2036 onwards”.
Gordon explained that a new expression of the country’s policy approach was as follows: If the 2020 BAU trajectory meant between 599-million tons and 711-million tons GHGs emitted, the 2020 mitigation objective would mean that emissions should be kept between 418-million tons and 571-million tons. If the 2025 BAU trajectory stood at emissions between 633-million tons and 865-million tons GHGs, the 2025 mitigation objective would be to see emissions between 412-million tons and 599-million tons GHGs. Thus emissions would still be increasing until 2025 but would need to do so at a lesser rate than the current BAU expectations.