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Carbon budget methods for South Africa

Client: Sustainable Energy Africa

Period:  January–March 2012

Project team: Harald Winkler and Andrew Marquard

This research considers the method by which carbon budgets (CB) can be defined for major sectors and sub-sectors in South Africa. Climate policy has mandated the definition of sectoral carbon budgets and the National Development Plan endorses the CB approach. The 2011 White Paper  affirms that SA’s greenhouse emissions must ‘peak, plateau and decline’ (PPD), thereby formalising in policy the strategic direction Cabinet had set in response to the Long-Term Mitigation Scenarios (LTMS). The same PPD pathway was part of the Copenhagen pledge, that emissions would deviate 34% below business-as-usual by 2020 and 42% by 2025, as communicated formally to the UNFCCC in 2010. The area under a curve is effectively our national carbon budget. Allocating it to secxtors and firms should be based on science and equity.

Our research will examine methodologies to divide the national CB among sectors – and major emitting facilities. We critically examine methodologies for robust accounting of GHG emission reductions,  reviewing a range of methodologies – both those used internaitonally and in previous research in South Africa. As the LTMS demonstrated, both research and process are crucial. So this brief think-piece will also consider elements of the allocation process that will be needed, and how different constraints to a national negotiating process on a CB might be addressed.

The output of the project will be a short paper. This will be made available publicly, and we hope it will be found relevant by decision-makers.