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Greenhouse emissions: SA on track

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South Africa’s greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise, but are on track to meet targets the country agreed to at the UN climate change conference in Copenhagen five years ago, government said on Tuesday.

Responding to a question at a briefing in Pretoria, environmental affairs deputy director Judy Beaumont said the 2009 agreement included reducing such emissions by 34 percent by 2020, and by 42 percent five years later.

This outlined an increase in emissions, at least until 2025, she said.

The challenge for South Africa was to build into this an ability to start moving towards a lower carbon economy.

This meant getting local industry to begin “bending the curve” so that the country’s emissions started declining, to reach a “plateau” in 2025, and going into absolute decline from 2035.

“So yes, our emissions are increasing, as expected. That increase is really associated with an increase in energy generation, industry and economic growth.

“The challenge, however, is to build in energy efficiency and lower carbon capacity,” Beaumont said.

Her department was in the process of revising the greenhouse gas inventory, published for public comment six weeks ago.

“We’re in the process of revising [it] on the basis of the comments.”

Responding to a separate question on progress towards imposing a carbon tax, she said National Treasury had outlined a proposal on this last year.

Such a tax was a key instrument, though not the only one, for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

The department was currently looking at the alignment of carbon tax with emission reduction objectives.

“That is underway, and Treasury and the department… are in the process of finalising an approach to aligning [the two],” she said. SAPA

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