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Tara Caetano


Senior Researcher


Economics of energy and climate change mitigation, including long-term emission development strategies, energy transitions, development economics, the circular economy

Contact Details

Telephone: +27-21-650-1909 


  • MSc Eng in Energy Studies from the University of Cape Town
  • BCom Honours in Economics from the University of Cape Town
  • Undergraduate degree in Economics and Insurance and Risk Management from the University of the Witwatersrand


Academic Profile

Tara Caetano is a senior researcher at the Energy Research Centre (ERC), University of Cape Town. Prior to joining the ERC, she was based at the German Institute of Global Area Studies (GIGA) in Hamburg, Germany. She has also consulted on a number of projects focused on the economics of energy and climate change, development, poverty alleviation and low carbon development. She holds a Master of Engineering Science in Energy and Development Studies, Energy Research Centre, University of Cape Town, and an Honours in Economics from the University of Cape Town.

Tara's academic expertise and knowledge of computable general equilibrium modelling has been used in a broad range of topics, including:

- estimating the GHG emissions reduction potential and socio-economic implications of policies and measures for mitigation in South Africa (ongoing),

- analysing decarbonisation in South Africa's transport sector (Caetano et al., 2017),

- potential for stranded coal sector assets in South Africa (Burton et al., 2016),

- structural change and economic futures for South Africa (Altieri et al., 2016),

- the potential socio-economic impacts of South Africa's proposed nuclear build plan (ERC, 2015),

- the socioeconomic impacts of creating waste recycling industries in South Africa (Hartley et al., 2016(a)(b)), 

- the potential impacts of implementing a National minimum wage in South Africa (Bhorat et al, 2016).

Current Research/Projects

- Co-benefits assessment of the future development of employment in the power sector and skills needed in South Africa in collaboration with the CSIR for the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies (IASS). Role: Project Lead 

The purpose of this study is to develop a quantitative method to assess the number of employment opportunities, and types of employment opportunities, created by renewable energy deployment at the national level, accounting for potential job losses in other sectors of the economy. 

Specifically, the following key details must be included in the analysis:

- Employment development in the power sector (net analysis including both positive and negative impacts, leading to an overall impact on employment);

- Types of jobs by education classification

- Analysis of job effects over time (until 2035 on an annual basis, as well as for 2040 and 2050)

- Co-benefits analysis based on climate mitigation and renewable energies deployment scenarios that are accepted by relevant ministries and government agencies.


- Estimating the GHG emissions reduction potential and socio-economic implications of policies and measures for mitigation in South Africa for the Department of Environmental Affairs. Role: Project Lead 

This study sets out to estimate the individual and total effect of existing and proposed policies and measures on GHG emissions reduction to meet South Africa's long-term climate mitigation goals, and to propose additional policies and measures if required to meet these goals; and to assess the socio-economic and environmental impacts of these policies and measures. Activities include:

- Setting up a reference case for South Africa from 2015 to 2050

- Model the impact of individual policies and measures on GHG emissions. 

- Model the collective impact of policies and measures, and assessed against the national emissions benchmark trajectory range (the "PPD" trajectory).

- Model the socio-economic implications of individual and collective policies and measures.

- Engage with government line departments and key stakeholders from business, NGOs, civil society, academia and government.


- Coal transitions project for a consortium led by IDDRI. Role: Lead Analyst

The project is developing feasible trajectories and policy packages for deep transitions in the coal sector in six major coal using countries. The South African analysis comprises the development of a detailed coal mine database and energy systems and macro-economic modeling to understand the socio-economic implications and specifically the labour impacts of meeting 2oC for the South African coal sector, coupled with the development of initial transition pathways for workers out of the coal sector (with IDDRI, Climate Strategies and 5 other country teams: The project includes a global coal market scenario analysis that examines trade dynamics for the coal sector over the long term and provides insight into future trade volumes and prices for South Africa's exports. 


List of Last 10 years publications (newest to oldest)

Thomas Spencer, Michel Colombier, Oliver Sartor, Amit Garg, Vineet Tiwari, Jesse Burton, Tara Caetano, Fergus Green, Fei Teng & John Wiseman (2017) The 1.5°C target and coal sector transition: at the limits of societal feasibility, Climate Policy, 18:3, 335-351, DOI: 10.1080/14693062.2017.1386540

Caetano, T., Merven, B., Hartley, F., & Ahjum, F. (2017). Decarbonisation and the transport sector: A socio-economic analysis of transport sector futures in South Africa. Journal of Energy in Southern Africa, 28(4).

ERC, CSIR and IFPRI. 2017. The developing energy landscape in South Africa: Technical Report. Energy Research Centre, University of Cape Town October 2017.

Katye E. Altieri, Hilton Trollip, Tara Caetano, Alison Hughes, Bruno Merven & Harald Winkler (2016) Achieving development and mitigation objectives through a decarbonization development pathway in South Africa, Climate Policy, S78-S91, DOI: 10.1080/14693062.2016.1150250.

Bhorat, H. et al (2016). “Investigating the Feasibility of a National Minimum Wage for South Africa”. Development Policy Research Unit Working Paper 201601. DPRU, University of Cape Town.

Burton, J. Caetano, T, Hughes, A, Merven, B,  Ahjum, F, McCall, B. (2016). "The impact of stranding power sector assets in South Africa: Using a linked model to understand economy-wide implications."  Energy Research Centre, University of Cape Town, Cape Town.

Hartley, F., Caetano, T. and Daniels R.C. 2016(a). The general equilibrium impacts of monetising all waste streams in South Africa. Energy Research Centre. University of Cape Town. November 2016.

Hartley, F., Caetano, T. and Daniels R.C. 2016(b). Economic benefits of extended producer responsibility initiatives in South Africa: The case of tyres. Energy Research Centre. University of Cape Town. November 2016.

Energy Research Centre (ERC), 2015. South Africa's proposed nuclear build plan: an analysis of the potential socioeconomic risks. Technical Report. Energy Research Centre. University of Cape Town.
November 2015.

"Inequality and Climate Change: Perspectives from the South". Edited by / Sous la direction de Gian Carlo Delgado Ramos. Dakar, Chapter 1: The Socioeconomic Implications of Renewable Energy and Low Carbon Trajectories in South Africa. CODESRIA, 2015, 204p., ISBN: 978-2-86978-645-5.

Caetano, T. and Thurlow, J. (2014). The socio-economic implications of renewable energy and low carbon trajectories in South Africa. Nordic Conference on Development Economics, Helsinki,
Finland, 16-17 June 2014. Link:

Trollip, H., Butler, A., Burton, J., Caetano, T., Godinho, C (2014) Energy Security in South Africa. Cape Town, MAPS. Link:



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