What should South Africa do?


Enhance its NDC to be 1.5 degree aligned by COP26:

  • Begin absolute decline in emission trajectory before 2025 to achieve below 300 MtCO2e by 2030 [well below bottom range in existing NDC]
  • Firmly commit  to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050
  • Implement Integrated Energy Planning (Energy Act 2008) and adopt additional measures: expand RE beyond 2030, fully phase-out coal-fired power generation by 2050; limit unabated natural gas use
  • Enhance the adaptation component of the NDC (with job creation and mitigation co-benefits), including policies and investment in measures to address sustainable agriculture, reverse biodiversity loss, desertification and unsustainable land use
  • Integrate climate and social transition risk assessment into all development planning, approval and investment processes

Build a just and resilient recovery plan:

  • Restructure financing of main state-owned power company Eskom, towards a progressive coal phase-out and transition to 100% RE
  • Enhance the submitted  2050 Low Emissions Development Strategy (LEDS) and commit to reaching zero carbon as a core principle underpinning the implementation of the published  Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan
  • Develop and implement policies to give full effect to the Just Transition detailed in Chapter 5 of the National Development Plan, including State Owned Entity reform, as well as dis-investment in and financial regulation of the fossil fuels sector
  • Build future economic competitiveness of the Just Transition growth trajectory, including though equitable taxing and pricing of carbon emissions
  • Provision in the Plan for expensive nuclear to be replaced by more economic, sustainable and job intensive renewable energy capacity
  • Stop uneconomic exploration and mining of oil and gas

What you should know about South Africa?

  • South Africa has the most carbon-intensive and inefficient energy sector- of all G20 countries. Economic growth has been below population growth for several years, with over 50% youth unemployment
  • Analysis shows that under its currently implemented policies and continued low economic growth, South Africa will reach the less ambitious end of its emission reduction targets in 2020 and 2025, and is likely to remain within the upper limit of its 2030 NDC Range (consistent with current NDC classified “Highly insufficient” by CAT)
Recovery Measures to Highlight

Recent developments, threats and levers for action


  • Increasing  high-level political support for a “Just Transition”
  • Opportunities to link the implementation of the Economic Reconstruction & Recovery Plan to climate ambition (both mitigation and adaptation)


  • Potential concessionary finance for the energy security and green economy components in the Recovery Plan
  • Transport sector transformation component of the Recovery Plan, including a Sasol just transition away from fossil fuels to develop synfuels with green hydrogen


  • Strong dependence on coal (77% of the energy supply)
  • Financial sector is not backing off investing in coal sufficiently quickly
  • Lack of integrated energy planning or strategic decision-making


  • Recovery Plan includes potential and additional coal, new nuclear and expansion of gas infrastructure
  • Recent expansion of coal constituency, particularly workers; state supported financial sector short-termism; planned new oil refinery with Aramco

About Climate Diplomacy Snapshots

The data is clear. Accelerated and enhanced action is needed now to build resilience and avoid the worst impacts of climate change. As they seek to address the ongoing health, economic and social impacts of COVID-19, governments should seize opportunities to invest in a recovery that will build social, economic and climate resilience on the long-term.The Climate Diplomacy Snapshots aim to provide the climate community with a clear overview of what each country should do, on climate and recovery, to pursue these joint objectives and keep the global average temperature increase to 1.5°C. Each has been prepared with the help of national experts, and will be regularly updated. The snapshots aim to support climate advocacy in the lead up to COP26.

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