Statement on the ratification of the Paris Agreement by South Africa

2 November 2016

The African Climate Reality Project congratulates the South African Government on the ratification of the Paris Agreement! We welcome this decision a few days before the Agreement enters into force on 4 November 2016, as it resolutely sets the country to implement urgently-needed mitigation and adaptation measures to build a low-carbon, climate-resilient and inclusive future.

However, we concur with the scientific analysis pointing to the fact that South Africa’s commitment to reducing its carbon emissions, as per the peak-plateau-decline emissions trajectory proposed in its Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC), is not consistent with limiting warming to below 2°C –  let alone 1.5°C – as pledged under the Paris Agreement. In fact, it is projected that global warming would exceed 3–4°C should most other countries follow South Africa’s approach.

Based on its peak-plateau-decline trajectory, South Africa’s emissions are projected to peak between 2020-2025, plateau for about a decade at between 398 and 614 MtCO2e and then decline to between 212–428 MtCO2e by 2050. Based on the scientific evidence and projections available, we advocate that South Africa should bring its carbon emissions to maximum 200 MtCO2e by 2030 in order to make a fair contribution (based on the country’s past and current emissions) to the mitigation of global CO2. In other words, this means that South Africa needs to curb its emissions much sooner and much more drastically than proposed in its Nationally Determined Contribution.

Thus the ACRP calls on the country to review and set more ambitious emissions reduction targets (set points rather than ranges). This review process should be undertaken without delay, in a transparent and inclusive fashion together with relevant research, industry and civil society players.

Simultaneously, the ACRP encourages the South African Government to create an even more conducive environment for the further deployment of renewable energy, particularly of wind and solar PV power. We also call on the government to review the current Integrated Resource Electricity Plan (IRP) 2010–2030 in favour of a swift and well-planned divestment from coal generation and transition to low-carbon energy generation by 2030.