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Government pushes for Carbon Tax ahead of Cop17

1 November 2011

In less than 4 weeks, Cop17 kicks off in Durban. This week we consider what steps the South African government is taking to address Climate Change.

The main initiative (outlined on the Cop17 web site) appears to be that government is in the process of drafting a White Paper on the National Climate Change Response, which indicates a degree of commitment to addressing climate change.

According to the Cop17 web site the following are some of the focus areas outlined in the White Paper on National Climate Change Response:

  • Map a socio-economic transition to a climate-resilient and low-carbon economy and society;
  • The transition to a climate-resilient and low-carbon economy and society will involve a balance between our efforts to reduce green house gases (mitigation) and our efforts to build our resilience to the impacts of climate change (adaptation);
  • In the long-term, we will redefine our competitive advantage and structurally transform the economy by shifting from an energy-intensive to a climate-friendly path as part of a pro-growth, pro-development and pro-jobs strategy;
  • The South African climate response policy will be informed by what scientists believe is necessary to limit global temperature increase to below 2°C above pre-industrial levels;
  • South Africa’s greenhouse gas emissions must peak, plateau and decline and stop growing at the latest by 2020-2025, stabilise for up to ten years, then decline in absolute terms;
  • Our efforts will constitute a fair and meaningful contribution to the global efforts, demonstrating leadership in the multi-lateral system by committing to a “substantial deviation from baseline”, enabled by international funding and technology.

More recently, there has been some media speculation of disclosure regarding the governments’ carbon policy prior to Cop17. Last month M&G reported online that carbon tax is expected to be implemented after the 2012 Budget Speech by Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan. According to the article titled Carbon tax debate: It’s about more than just hot air, it is estimated that South Africa could collect about R82.5-billion a year from companies.

Now let’s consider how the proposal for carbon tax has been received.  The government’s Carbon Tax Discussion paper released in 2010 was welcomed by initiatives such as the Energy Research Council who were given opportunity to comment and published their comments in February this year.  Their inputs were mainly concerned with the levels of taxation in terms of achieving the desired outcomes and whether adjustments would need to be made, how the taxation would be used, how the poor are protected, policies for competitiveness in industry and policies around carbon tax and trading.  Click here for full comments on the paper.

Dramatic weather patterns remind us of the need for swift action.  Photo: Reza Khota

Dramatic weather patterns remind us of the need for swift action. Photo: Reza Khota

It seems, our government has started to work towards creating policies and that some of the plans may come in to effect shortly. There is however, some speculation around the push to showcase our plans as we host the biggest Climate Change Conference in the world. But what is required to show real impact and measures to protect Africa’s most vulnerable after the delegates have left?


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