South Africa commits to cap emissions through to 2030; climate finance is key

Published: 25th September 2015

South Africa has today tabled its climate action plan for Paris, committing to put a lid on rising emissions through to 2030. How low they are able to plateau will depend on international support meaning so climate finance will be key to unlock greater ambition, says Oxfam.

Oxfam climate campaigner, Nokutula Mhene, said: "If the minimum end of the pledge is what South Africa pledges to do unsupported then this would fall shy of their fair share of the global effort required to avoid dangerous global warming – so the government is encouraged to take a further step along the scale.

"While South Africa is doing more to pull its weight than developed countries like Australia, Japan and Canada, civil society has called for the government to put forward a more ambitious vision. This involves tackling the vested interests in its energy sector, which would help to roll out more renewable energy, benefiting both the climate and poverty reduction. 

"The government should be given credit on its fully costed adaptation plan. Helping people become more resilient to the impacts of floods, droughts and storms will be key to reducing poverty - as it is the poorest and most vulnerable who bear the brunt of climate change despite being the least responsible for the causes.

"The price-tag for this adaptation plan depends on how much the world manages to limit emissions, and countries in a position to do so must prepare to meet these needs. Although the South African government is already bearing a substantial share of the cost, international climate finance will be required to meet the gap. To help this happen, leaders in Paris should agree to ring-fence a minimum of 50% of public climate finance for adaptation."

Notes to editors

  • South Africa’s INDC addresses adaptation and mitigation as well as the finance and technologies required to meet its contributions. Commitments are conditional on a fair, ambitious and effective Paris Agreement, which progressively increases ambition, and on financial and technical support from the international community. 
  • South Africa has pledged to peak, and then plateau emissions between 398–614 MtCO2e by 2025, maintaining this through to 2030. The government estimates that this puts the country on a trajectory to start declining emissions from 2036. The lower-end of this pledge is interpreted to be South Africa’s unconditional pledge. 
  • Oxfam calculations indicate that a reasonable expectation of South Africa’s fair share of the global effort to limit warming to below 2 degrees would be to limit emissions to about 590Mt by 2030. This takes into account South Africa’s responsibility for causing emissions, as well as their capacity to reduce emissions – exempting those parts of the population which have not yet fully escaped poverty from contributing. 
  • The South African INDC estimates the cost of adapting to climate change at up to $30bn a year by 2030, and up to $50bn a year by 2050, and shows that South Africa is already meeting a disproportionate share of this cost through its own national contributions. 

Contact information

Simon Hernandez-Arthur, in Washington D.C.: / +1 (585) 503 4568