What is Government doing?
How is South Africa responding to climate change?
The South African government regards climate change as one of the greatest threats to sustainable development. If unmitigated, Government believes that climate change has the potential to undo or undermine many of the positive advances made in meeting South Africa’s own development goals and the Millennium Development Goals.
Government is committed to address climate change and is in the process of drafting the White Paper on the National Climate Change Response. The Paper would, among others:
- Map a socio-economic transition to a climate-resilient and low-carbon economy and society;
- The transition to a climate-resilient and low-carbon economy and society will involve a balance between our efforts to reduce green house gases (mitigation) and our efforts to build our resilience to the impacts of climate change (adaptation);
- In the long-term, we will redefine our competitive advantage and structurally transform the economy by shifting from an energy-intensive to a climate-friendly path as part of a pro-growth, pro-development and pro-jobs strategy;
- The South African climate response policy will be informed by what scientists believe is necessary to limit global temperature increase to below 2°C above pre-industrial levels;
- South Africa’s greenhouse gas emissions must peak, plateau and decline and stop growing at the latest by 2020-2025, stabilise for up to ten years, then decline in absolute terms;
- Our efforts will constitute a fair and meaningful contribution to the global efforts, demonstrating leadership in the multi-lateral system by committing to a “substantial deviation from baseline”, enabled by international funding and technology.
The South African Government also acknowledge the following:
- The stabilisation of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that prevents dangerous human interference with the climate system will require the efficient international implementation of an effective and binding global agreement on, among others, greenhouse gas emission reductions;
- That, together with all the other countries responsible for significant greenhouse gas emissions and considering its developing country status, South Africa, as a responsible global citizen, is committed to reducing its own greenhouse gas emissions in order to successfully facilitate the agreement and implementation of an effective and binding global agreement on, among others, greenhouse gas emission reductions;
- That, notwithstanding the impact of any global agreement, South Africa will have to adapt to the unavoidable impact of climate change through the management of risk and the reduction of vulnerability; and
- That although there will be costs associated with South Africa’s greenhouse gas emission reduction efforts, there will also be significant short and long-term social and economic benefits, including improved international competitiveness that will result from a transition to a low carbon economy. Furthermore, that these costs will be far less than the costs of delay and inaction.
Government will continue to engage actively and meaningfully in international climate change negotiations, specifically the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) negotiations, in order to secure a binding, multi-lateral international agreement that will effectively limit the average global temperature increase to at least below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and that is:
- a credible outcome that is equitable, fair and inclusive;
- has a balance between adaptation and mitigation responses;
- has an appropriate development – climate response balance and is based on the recognition that solving the climate problem will only be possible if it is undertaken within the context of developing countries' priority of achieving poverty eradication and promoting development.
For more information, see the website of the South African Department of Environmental Affairs