WWF-South Africa: Government’s draft climate plan needs targets that see emissions fall faster and more sharply | WWF

WWF-South Africa: Government’s draft climate plan needs targets that see emissions fall faster and more sharply

Posted on 21 August 2015    
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(Cape Town, South Africa, 21 August 2015) – South Africa’s draft climate plan – due to be submitted to the UN before October in preparation for a new global climate deal due to be agreed in Paris in December this year – needs to be much more ambitious and set targets that would see emissions fall faster and more sharply.
Reacting to the proposed plan posted to a government website late last week, WWF-South Africa’s Louise Naudé says the contradictions between South Africa’s international position in the UN climate negotiations and its domestic action must be eliminated, and all infrastructure and programmes must incorporate climate proofing.  Among other things, this would mean no fracking, no further construction of coal-fired power stations and greater hesitance to expand coal mining.
Tasneem Essop, WWF’s head of delegation to the UN climate negotiations noted that other developing and least-developed countries who can ill afford it are doing more. It is time, she says, for Africa’s powerhouse to do the same.
“It is understandable that South Africa wants to leave itself a lot of negotiating flexibility in an international context where developed economies, among others Australia, Canada and Japan, are not doing their part. But to maintain their standing as a global leader in the climate change negotiations, and as co-chair of the G77+China, South Africa needs to table a stronger climate plan, given its position as an emerging economy which is among the world’s top 20 emitters.”
Naudé says government must stand firm against special interest lobbying and act in the greater developmental interest. This means setting an emissions target to 2050, and clarifying how much will be done domestically, and what further reductions will need international support.
In 2010, government set a goal to reduce its emissions by 34 per cent by 2020 and by 42 per cent by 2025, below "business as usual" levels. But since then, there has been a steady erosion of the target, says Naudé.
“Measurements and calculations at the time meant South Africa would have been restricted to emitting 17.8 billion tonnes of greenhouse gases over the period 2010‑2050. This has inflated to a broader emissions peak-plateau-decline range with 23 billion tonnes as the upper limit in national policy, and even that is being contested domestically.”
South Africa’s climate plan should commit to specific emissions targets to 2050. Instead it uses varied methodologies, start dates and numbers to package the peak-plateau-decline range as a reasonable middle ground for its fair share. But, argues Naudé, with extra international support, South Africa’s fair share of the global carbon budget to keep average temperature increases below 2°C should be at most 14 Gt CO2e over 2016‑2050. “Having already overshot its path to ‘peak’ emissions, South Africa’s emissions need to come down faster and more sharply, not keep giving ourselves more slack. So, for example, the climate plan should fix the business-as-usual baseline and not let it be conveniently recalculated, allowing big emitters and other special interest groups to avoid their obligations, she says.
“We are seeing strong pushback from special interests, such as the fossil fuel industry and some businesses which will come under pressure in a low-carbon regime – and those in government who do not yet grasp that a shift to a lower carbon economy is the developmental path to pursue,” says Naudé .

Notes for Editors:
  1. WWF-South Africa invites those businesses which would grow or gain competitive advantage as a lower carbon economy emerges to voice their interests in government consultations (see bit.ly/DEA_INDC) and contribute to accelerating the new low carbon economy, for example through taking science-based emission reduction targets (see sciencebasedtargets.org).
  1. Read South Africa’s draft climate plan here: https://www.environment.gov.za/sites/default/files/docs/sanational_determinedcontribution.pdf.
For further information, contact:
For WWF International:
Mandy Jean Woods mwoods@wwf.org.za / @MandyJeanWoods  / +27 72 393 0027
Sam Smith ssmith@wwf.no  / @pandaclimate / +47 450 22 149
Tasneem Essop tessop@wwf.org.za
For WWF-South Africa
Louise Naudé  lnaude@wwf.org.za  / +27 21-6506648
James Reeler   jreeler@wwf.org.za  / +27 21-6506706
About WWF - WWF's mission is to stop the degradation of the earth's natural environment and to build a future in which humans live in harmony with nature. The Global Climate & Energy Initiative (GCEI) is WWF’s global programme addressing climate change, promoting renewable and sustainable energy, scaling up green finance, engaging the private sector and working nationally and internationally on implementing low carbon, climate resilient development.
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Sunset over a solar electric panel system roof in Ambleside, Lake District, UK.
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