A 1.5°C consistent NDC target range for South Africa would require emission reductions of 36-51% below 2010 levels by 2030 (excl. LULUCF). In absolute terms the most ambitious reduction proposed by South Africa’s 2016 NDC is 414 MtCO2e/yr (excl. LULUCF) by 2030.
South Africa’s NDC does not specify whether its NDC is conditional on international support however it highlights the need for financial support to implement its target. 1.5°C compatible domestic pathways would require for the country emission reduction of 39% reduction below 2010 levels (or 334 MtCO2e/yr by 2030), excluding LULUCF.
Under current policies South Africa would therefore be emitting 104-180 MtCO2e/yr more than is compatible with a domestic 1.5°C pathway in 2030 , however, if it were to fully implement the Integrated Resources Plan (2019), it would achieve its NDC target.
Long term pathway
South Africa’s Low Emissions Development Strategy (LEDS) targets an emissions level of 212-428 MtCO2e/yr including LULUCF, translating to 229-445 MtCO2e/yr excluding LULUCF by 2050 or 19-58% below 2010 levels., In contrast, a 1.5°C compatible pathway requires South Africa to reach emissions no higher than 134 MtCO2e/yr by 2050, excluding LULUCF which translates in 76% below 2010 levels.
Our analysis suggests the energy sector would need to be the first sector to fully decarbonise by around 2050.
The majority of remaining GHG emissions will be from agriculture and industrial processes and will require negative emissions of 72 to 134 MtCO2e by 2050 to achieve net zero GHG emissions in that same year. Given the limited historical sink from the land sector South Africa benefits (around -28 MtCO2e/yr in 2015), the country will need to implement carbon dioxide removal (CDR) approaches to increase its sink through policy instruments fostering reforestation/afforestation or the development of technological CDR.