South Africa is predominantly reliant on road travel for passengers and freight within and between its major metropoles and trade centres. This has resulted in the sector producing just over 13% of the country’s total CO₂ emissions (in 2017). Emissions increased from approximately 0.041 MtCO₂ in 2000 to 0.055 MtCO₂ in 2017.
The transport sector is dominated by the use of fossil fuel-derived liquid fuels. The share of electricity and biofuels is minimal and there is no infrastructure to introduce hydrogen. In 2020, 78% of passenger transport was by road, with electric vehicles (EVs) making up only 0.06% of car sales.
To achieve a 1.5°C compatible pathway, the transport sector’s fossil fuel reliance would need to be dramatically reduced for emissions to decline 51% to 77% from 2019 levels by 2030. However, the South African Department of Transport has only committed to a 5% emissions reduction from the transport sector by 2050.
The 1.5°C scenarios analysed show a wide range of pathways leading to decarbonisation of the sector occurring between 2037 and 2062. Higher range of electricity penetration leads to a quicker decarbonisation of the sector (Low Energy Demand scenario). This pace of decarbonisation would only be possible with a rapid scaling up of the use of electricity, produced by renewables, in the sector (to between 70% to 97% by 2050).