Climate Transparency questions South Africa’s commitment to phasing out coal

18th November 2020 By: Marleny Arnoldi - Creamer Media Online Writer

A report by Climate Transparency has cautioned the Group of Twenty (G20) countries against quick-fix Covid-19 stimulus packages that favour fossil fuel industries.

The global partnership has a shared mission to stimulate a “race to the top” in climate action in the G20 countries through enhanced transparency.

Climate Transparency further notes that South Africa’s energy sector remains one of the most coal-dependent and largest per capita polluters in the G20, despite being at greater risk of climate-related impacts.

Fossil fuels still account for 92% of South Africa’s total energy mix, with more than 85% of electricity generated from coal.

Renewable energy only accounts for 6% of South Africa’s electricity mix, compared with the G20 average of 27%.

The Climate Transparency report annually reviews climate action by the G20 countries, drawing on emissions data from 2019 and covering 100 indicators on decarbonisation, climate policies, finance and vulnerability to the impacts of climate change.

The partnership says the South African government has yet to make a firm commitment to phase out coal power by 2050, while the share of fossil fuels in the global primary energy mix needs to fall by 67% by 2030 and by 33% by 2050, to reduce the risk of severe climate-related impacts.

The country’s 2019 Integrated Resource Plan still includes investment in a further 1 500 MW of new coal plants before 2030.

“It makes no sense that South Africa has approved a low emissions development strategy to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050 but at the same time has not yet committed to phasing out coal power by 2050.

“We hope to see increased commitment to limiting emissions in South Africa’s next nationally determined contributions submission before the Conference of the Parties 26 meetings next year,” says University of Cape Town energy systems research group lead Bryce McCall.