South Africa South Africa

South Africa slips two places in this year’s CCPI, to 39th.

The country receives medium ratings in the Energy Use and Climate Policy categories, but low in Renewable Energy and GHG Emissions.

South Africa submitted an updated Nationally Determined Contribution ahead of COP26, but its 2030 target for emissions reductions falls short of a 1.5°C target. The upper limit of the reduction target is also inadequate for even a 2°C target. Despite the more ambitious target, the CCPI country experts note continued misalignment across sector government policies, with a lack of both guidance and political will for implementation of national climate policies (rated low in this year’s CCPI).

The country’s energy policy framework also limits penetration of renewables because policy creation still strongly focuses on coal (with renewables’ share in primary energy rated very low). As a result, GHG per capita is not aligned with a well-below-2°C benchmark (thus rated very low). The experts highlight how the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy is structured towards continuing reliance on coal in the energy mix, with no real focus on sustainability. Poor policy making leads to an imbalance in favour of coal and centralised power generation, rather than decentralised (sub-national) and renewable energy initiatives.

South Africa has called for more international green finance, which would help the domestic transition of its energy sector, and public utility Eskom, from fossil fuels to renewables.

The following national experts agreed to be mentioned as contributors for this year’s CCPI: Tina Schubert (Project 90 by 2030);  James Reeler, Prabhat Upadhyaya (WWF South Africa)

Technical note: how to read the target comparison graph

The graph above shows the development of a country over the past years compared with its Paris compatible pathway and 2030 target. For all three quantitative categories of the CCPI, this visualisation gives an overview of where a country is right now, where it would need to be to fulfil the Paris Agreement promises and where it aims to be in 2030.

For GHG emissions per capita, the data includes LULUCF, as used for the emissions per capita indicator. This leads to the vast changes in emissions of some countries with high forest coverage.
The calculation of individual country target pathways is based on the common but differentiated convergence approach (CDC). It is based on the principle of “common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities” laid forth in the Framework Convention on Climate Change. All Annex I countries therefore have a decreasing pathway from 1990 onwards, starting at that year’s emissions. 60 years later, in 2050, these countries are expected to reach net zero emissions. All other countries, which did not reach the level of global average emissions in 1990, are allowed to increase emissions until the average is reached. But by latest 2015 these countries, too, have decreasing pathways and 60 years to reach net zero. These pathways start from the global average.

The Renewable Energy data is given in per cent of Total Primary Energy Supply (TPES) and includes hydro energy, consistent with the respective CCPI indicator. As global distribution of Renewables (especially solar and wind) only started in the 2000s, the pathways in this category start in 2010. All countries have an equal goal: 100% Renewables in 2050, each starting from its 2010 value.

For Energy Use the Primary Energy Supply per capita is shown. All pathways for this category start at country’s 1990 values and meet at global average of 80 gigajoules per capita in TPES.
For 2°C and 1.5°C scenarios, a decrease in emissions by reducing the (growth in) energy use is as crucial as deploying renewable (or other low-carbon) technologies. The IPCC carried out a scenario comparison using a large number of integrated assessment models. From the scenarios available, we observe that the total amount of global energy use in 2050 has to be roughly the same level or a bit higher than it is today, with a margin of uncertainty. At the same time population will grow slightly between today and 2050. We therefore pragmatically chose the well-below-2° compatible benchmark to be “same energy use per capita in 2050 as the current global average”, which is 80 gigajoules per capita in TPES.