Climate change still huge threat
EXPERTS believe the government needs to take radical action to prevent climate change.
The release of the UN Emissions Gap Report showed governmental initiatives around the world are “woefully inadequate” to bridge the emissions gap in 2030.
Senior policy analyst at World Wildlife Fund South Africa Dr Prabhat Upadhyaya said the political landscape needed to change by strengthening the implementation of the policies.
“The government needs to act decisively. This includes legislating the carbon tax and gradually increasing the carbon price, promote renewable energy and energy efficiency, weaning ourselves off our fossil-fuels addiction by reducing subsidies to carbon-intensive industrial processes and supporting non-state and subnational action,” he said.
Upadhyaya said the government was pursuing policy to reduce the country’s greenhouse gas emissions that included the draft Climate Change Bill, draft Carbon Tax bill and the Integrated Resource Plan.
“While these are welcome, they are not ambitious enough.”
The carbon tax is meant to cut emissions in line with South Africa’s international commitments under the Paris Agreement. The initial carbon tax will be R120 a ton of carbon dioxide but because of of tax-free allowances it will result in an effective tax of R48 to as little as R6 a ton.
Samantha Keen from the Energy Research Centre at UCT said the proposed rate in the Carbon Tax bill did not do enough.
“The tax is too low to reach the ambition of 1.5 degrees,” she said.
National Treasury is proposing a higher tax rate of R600 a ton and a limit on allowances and has signalled its intention to enforce the tax.
Professor Sampson Mamphweli from the Centre for Renewable and Sustainable Energy Studies at Stellenbosch University said the Climate Change bill was a good start but did not have concrete plans.
Mamphweli said the carbon tax wouldn’t deter big business from continuing with their emissions and may shift costs onto consumers.
“We have seen a situation with the imposition of payment for plastic bags to deter people and businesses from using plastic bags. People still purchase plastic bags each time they go to shop and in most cases they don’t mind paying for the plastic bags. ”