The past year has certainly been a busy one with respect to climate change, global temperatures, carbon policies and a global commitment to environmental sustainability. Internationally, we have experienced our hottest year ever and global leadership has taken steps and pledges toward addressing climate change. For an in-depth analysis of global developments, read our previous article. With all of these changes and commitments taking place internationally, South Africa has chosen to make some changes, and has seen several carbon developments over the past year. Below are a few of the changes and implications that we as a nation have experienced.
- LOAD SHEDDING
Of course load shedding would have to be at the top of the list. Having experienced a terrible load shedding year in 2015, South Africa doesn’t seem to have much hope for 2016, and to add insult to injury, electricity prices are set to increase by as much as 13% next year. If this isn’t motivation enough to reduce one’s reliance on Eskom, consider the fact that electricity generation in South Africa, as in most of the world, is the number one contributor to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions – with almost 90% of the power Eskom supplies to SA and other African nations coming from coal-fired power stations.
Many South African companies, including The Carbon Report, now offer energy audits and advice to help understand and reduce energy consumption, both residentially and commercially. Moreover, many private firms now offer clean energy sources, such as solar panels or solar geysers, to help South Africans to both reduce their dependency on Eskom for power, and play their individual roles in a more sustainable future.
- SA’S PLEDGE TO PEAK GHGs BY 2025
In a revised submission to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, South Africa pledged to arrest its greenhouse gas emissions by 2025. The goal is for carbon emissions to peak between the years 2020 and 2025, after which they will plateau for a decade or so before beginning to drop as a result of South Africa’s investment in cleaner energy solutions. This was one of the more recent developments prior to COP21 that showed developing nations committing themselves to climate change action. This also implies that South Africa will most likely be going ahead with carbon tax in 2017.
- CARBON TAX BILL
The release of the latest Draft Carbon Tax Bill, on 2 November 2015, is a clear indication that the South African government intends to proceed with pricing carbon. This is in support of the pledge that South Africa made to the United Nations, listed above, and is vital if we as a nation are to reduce our GHG emissions. If carbon tax is introduced with effective revenue recycling measures, as Treasury have committed, the bill should not have a negative net effect on the economy. It will play a huge role in the longevity of the country, and indeed the planet, and will show other nations and even potential investors that South Africa takes climate change seriously. For an in-depth understanding of the proposed carbon tax, and how to prepare for it, please feel free to get in touch with us.
- EL NIÑO AND DROUGHT
This year the globe has experienced some extreme weather conditions, not the least of which being the unbelievably hot El Niño more recently. An El Niño is not caused by global warming, however the impacts caused by it are strengthened by rising global temperatures. This, in addition to the worst drought the country has experienced in 30 years has led to a national water crisis. This means that in addition to worrying about load shedding, South Africans now face water shortages too. However, on a positive note, this has shone the spotlight on how precious this taken-for-granted commodity is, and just how much climate change can affect it.
- REIPPPP WINDOW 4
The Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme (REIPPPP), as the name suggests, is a program that aims to take advantage of the vast amounts of potential renewable energy that South Africa has to offer. In addition to promoting environmental sustainability, the project also promises socioeconomic growth through job creation and the creation of a new industry (renewable energy) in South Africa. In the fourth window for bidding, in April, the Department of Energy selected 13 projects, including biomass, wind, solar and hydroelectric power generation, to help it achieve an additional 1,121 Megawatt capacity for power creation through renewable sources. Thereafter (in what is being referred to as window 4.5), a further 13 projects were selected in June, comprising wind and solar, to gain a further capacity of 1,084 Megawatts.
Essentially, through private investment, South Africa has committed to making the move toward renewable energy sources. Although it’s a long road to reach significant amounts of renewable energy, the REIPPPP is a step in the right direction, inspiring hope and hopefully inspiring others.
It has been a long, hot year, and although the global average temperature is rising, it’s good to see that South Africa is following the example set by first world countries in taking positive steps toward climate change. Although individuals and companies alike resent the thought of carbon tax, try to bear in mind that it is for the best. The proposed carbon tax will provide motivation and reason, which should have existed already, to make the move toward cleaner energy and environmental sustainability.