South Africa to introduce carbon budgets

Submitted by: Amanda Botes, Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The Government has signalled its intention to introduce Carbon Budgets to South Africa with the publication of the  National Climate Change Response White Paper.  The paper was released to the public on the 18 October 2011 and outlines the government’s vision to achieve a lower carbon and climate resilient society.


The paper outlines that within two years carbon budgets will be established for economic sectors that are high emitters of Green House Gases.  Carbon budgets will specifically affect large energy using sectors such as mining, industry and transport and the electricity and liquid fuel supply industries.

Budgets will be set based on a review of contributions by sectors to the total South African Green House Gas emissions. Carbon budgets will document the amount of carbon that is available at sectoral and company level, and specify desired emission reduction targets. Impacted companies and sectors will then have to respond and provide plans and strategies of how they will reduce their Green House Gas emissions in line with their carbon budget. The carbon budgets will be reviewed and updated according to monitoring and evaluation results.

Business and industries that are not high emitters may not feel the direct effects of the carbon budget but may indirectly be affected through price increases if impacted companies pass on the increased cost of doing business.

It is not yet clear what kind of reductions impacted businesses will have to make in terms of the proposed carbon budgets.  However in 2009 the South Africa government committed to reducing carbon emissions growth to 34% below current expected levels by 2020.

Business Unity South Africa (BUSA), a body that represents South African business on high level issues, responded to the proposal of carbon budgets by stating that government should prioritise the “development of rigorous methodology to finalise the benchmark emission trajectory against which greenhouse gas reductions will be measured and to allocate carbon budgets” as part of a broader action plan.

Amanda Botes