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South Africa’s sign­ing of the land­mark Paris agree­ment on cli­mate change is good news for the en­vi­ron­ment, but bad news for the labour mar­ket and the econ­omy. Job losses are ap­par­ently in­evitable, and long-stand­ing talks about car­bon tax are again at the fore­front.

Ac­cord­ing to the Paris agree­ment, South Africa has com­mit­ted it­self to be­gin re­duc­ing its green­house gas emis­sions in 2021. Al­to­gether, 177 coun­tries have signed the agree­ment.

How­ever, mines and in­dus­tries in South Africa rely heav­ily on en­ergy sources that are not re­garded as “clean” – such as coal – and now have five years to adapt so that they can meet the new re­quire­ments.

Alan Mukoki, CEO of the SA Cham­ber of Com­merce and In­dus­try, said: “The im­pact will be sig­nif­i­cant. There will cer­tainly be job losses.

“In ad­di­tion, de­vel­op­ing coun­tries have a hand­i­cap be­cause we do not have all the tech­nol­ogy that is needed to re­duce green­house gas emis­sions.”

En­vi­ron­men­tal Af­fairs Min­is­ter Edna Molewa signed the agree­ment in New York on April 22. Coun­tries have un­til April 21 next year to sign the pact. The agree­ment will come into force in 2020. The main pur­pose of the agree­ment is to pre­vent global tem­per­a­tures from ris­ing by more than 2°C and prefer­ably by only 1.5°C.

Ev­ery coun­try that signs the agree­ment also com­mits it­self to a pro­posed In­tended Na­tion­ally De­ter­mined Con­tri­bu­tion, a term used un­der the UN Frame­work Con­ven­tion on Cli­mate Change, which dif­fers from coun­try to coun­try.

In terms of this, South Africa un­der­takes that its re­lease of gases: Will slow down from 2021 to 2025; Will reach a plateau by 2025 that will be main­tained for more or less a decade; and

Will then be­gin to re­duce fur­ther. Coun­tries that sign the agree­ment have un­til 2020 to put leg­is­la­tion and sys­tems in place that will en­able them to achieve their tar­gets un­der the In­tended Na­tion­ally De­ter­mined Con­tri­bu­tion.

Molewa said in her bud­get speech in March that South Africa would fol­low three steps to en­sure the tar­gets were met:

A green­house gas bud­get:

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