The Department of Environmental Affairs presented a report on the outcomes of the 23rd session of the conference of the parties to the United Nations Convention on Climate Change (COP23), held from 6 to 17 November 2017 in Bonn, Germany, and the significance of developments in the negotiations for South Africa and Africa were spelt out.
When fully implemented, the Paris Agreement would require South Africa to submit a “Nationally-Determined Contribution” (NDC) every five years which detailed South Africa’s climate response, and to report on progress in achieving its NDC. The nature and extent of these obligations would only be clear once negotiations on the Paris Rule Book had been finalised, but would involve building on current national systems established in terms of South Africa’s climate policy. The specific outcomes of COP 23 did not require additional implementation requirements for South Africa.
A key issue to emerge was concern over an apparent contradiction between South Africa’s transition to a low-carbon economy and the envisioned construction of two coal-fired power stations, since these power stations would be adding more greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. These would undermine South Africa’s efforts to transition to a low-carbon economy. It was resolved to raise this matter with the Minister of Energy.
Due to the complexity of the legislation in question, it was furthermore decided to approach the Standing Committee on Finance, to determine the possibility of hosting a Carbon Tax Bill workshop. It was a vital piece of legislation that directly addressed South Africa’s transition to a low-carbon economy. South Africa, in plotting its own way forward, had to be able to anticipate what could come from the discussions in the lead up to the finalisation of the Paris Rule Book by ‘moving with’ the negotiations.
The DEA also reported on the ratification of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Protocol on Environmental Management for Sustainable Development. After unpacking the process of ratification, the benefits and the implications of the Protocol, it recommended that Parliament approve the ratification. As Chair of SADC from August 2017 to August 2018, South Africa intended to ratify this Protocol to demonstrate commitment to strengthening regional efforts to conserve trans-boundary natural resources and promote sustainable development within SADC. The Protocol was approved by the Committee.
Here is a link to the full report – a subscription might be needed.