On September 2021, the Government submitted its updated NDC based on the Presidential Climate Commission (PCC) recommendations target of 350-420 MtCO₂e/yr including LULUCF, by 2030 and conditional on international support. This would translate in emissions reductions of 366-436 MtCO₂e/yr excluding LULUCF by 2030 or 20-33% below 2010 levels by 2030.
A 1.5°C consistent emissions pathway for South Africa would require emission reductions of 39-53% below 2010 levels by 2030 or 249-325 MtCO₂e/yr by 2030 (excluding LULUCF). The achievement of the most ambitious end of South Africa’s 2030 target (366 MtCO₂e, excl. LULUCF) would place the country very close to being on a domestic 1.5°C compatible pathway.
However, under current policies South Africa would, if it were to fully implement the Integrated Resources Plan (2019), achieve the higher bound of its NDC target which lies outside of the 1.5°C compatible range.
Long term pathway
South Africa’s Low Emissions Development Strategy (LEDS) targets an emissions level of 212-428 MtCO₂e/yr including LULUCF, translating in 229-445 MtCO₂e/yr excluded 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 107 MtCO₂e/yr by 2050, excluding LULUCF which translates in 88% 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 72-134 MtCO₂e by 2050 to achieve net zero GHG emissions in that same year. Models tend to rely on rather conservative assumptions in the development of renewable energy technologies. This tends to result in greater reliance on technological CDR than if a faster transition to renewables were achieved. 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. In addition, international support will need to be provided for technological carbon dioxide removal approaches such as bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS) or direct air capture and storage (DAC).