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18 February 2011

National Climate Change Response Green Paper

Written by Robyn Ferrar, Posted in editorials

Summary and Comments

National Climate Change Response Green Paper

In his State of the Nation Address last week, the President made very little reference to the environment, as may be expected.  However, rest assured, Green is well and truly on the agenda in government this year.  This was demonstrated in the 38-page National Climate Change Response Green Paper released early this month by the Department of Environmental Affairs.

In response to the Risk & Vulnerability Atlas that was released late last year, the Green Paper is a well-considered, comprehensive and emphatic statement made by the Department of Environmental Affairs, saying that it is taking the threat of anthropogenic climate change very seriously.  This is encouraging to say the least, but at the same time very few actual commitments were made.  The implied commitments are expected to be fleshed out in more detail in the White Paper to follow later this year.

The notable points that were made and those that would be of interest to SA business are as follows:

The objective driving this initiative is a commitment to mitigate GHG emissions at 34% and 42% below a business as usual baseline trajectory by 2020 and 2025 respectively, where it will peak and plateau until 2035, after which it will begin to fall in absolute terms.

The approach will be to find a balance between adaptation measures (primarily in Water; Agriculture & Human Health) and mitigation measures (primarily in Energy; Industry & Transport), based on quality information and research, and using incentives (tax breaks and investment), as well as disincentives (carbon tax and legislation).

Legislative measures expected within the next 2-5 years will include:

  • escalating carbon tax;
  • mandatory targets for energy efficiency;
  • mandatory annual GHG emissions reporting by significant emitters;
  • mandatory appliance labelling;
  • Minimum Energy Performance Standards;
  • mandatory energy-management systems in office buildings;
  • EU imposed emission caps on aviation and international export taxes on carbon intensive products.

Next steps committed to by 2012 include:

  • the compilation and publication of a climate change response action plan for the commercial and manufacturing sector;
  • revise and amend Minimum Requirements for Landfills;
  • conduct a review of all government policies, strategies, legislation, regulations and plans to align with the NCCR Policy;
  • design, develop and roll-out a climate change awareness campaign;
  • develop, test and commission a web-based GHG emission monitoring and reporting system for significant emitters;
  • publish a draft Climate Change Response Monitoring, Reporting and Verification (MRV) system aligned with international requirements.

Living Wealth has submitted comments for consideration by the DEA, regarding certain points of contention and areas of concern.  However, on the whole we are encouraged and buoyed by the hard-hitting stance that this document represents.  We look forward to engaging further with government and to the release of the White Paper and, more importantly, COP 17 later this year.

“The race to a low carbon future is in full swing across the globe. The EU and China in particular are showing the world that investment in green technologies and green jobs backed by a clear and strong regulatory regime is an opportunity for growth and not a constraint, as many countries seem to think. South Africa, as the country with the highest CO2 per unit of GDP in the world, understands not only what is at stake but most importantly the opportunities involved in participating in the green revolution. The National Climate Change Response Green Paper sets the tone for this.” The implications of South Africa’s Green Paper for businesses - GCX

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