| Cabinet approves new carbon targets for companies, and Eskom won’t be exempted this time

Minister in the Presidency, Mondli Gungubele.

Minister in the Presidency, Mondli Gungubele.

  • Minister Mondli Gungubele said Cabinet approved a sectoral emission targets framework in line with SAs commitment to reduce emissions.
  • He said Cabinet also approved the company-level carbon budget allocation methodology which seeks to target high-emitting companies. 
  • Both are designed to get emissions curbed in line with the country’s multilateral carbon emission commitments and the upcoming Climate Change Bill.

Minister in the Presidency Mondli Gungubele told reporters on Thursday that Cabinet had approved the implementation of company-level carbon budget allocations, and that these would also apply to Eskom – which has been dubbed the worst-polluting power company in the world. 

Cabinet, at Wednesday’s meeting, approved sectoral emission targets (SETs) and carbon budget allocations, which are both designed to curb emissions from business operations in line with the country’s multilateral commitments and an upcoming Climate Change Bill.

The meeting and Cabinet decision follow South Africa’s participation in the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) meeting in Glasgow, Scotland, earlier this month.

At the meeting, South Africa managed to secure R131 billion in funding to assist with a transition to renewable sources of energy.

Eskom’s operational and financial troubles have meant that the power utility has been afforded exemptions from policies aimed at reducing emissions. For instance, the parastatal itself told Parliament in August that it will only achieve 57% compliance with South Africa’s Minimum Emission Standards on air quality, in four years.

Looking ahead

The utility, however, plans to have net-zero carbon emissions from its plants by the year 2050.

Gungubele said Cabinet approved the company-level carbon budget allocation methodology approach as a mandatory carbon budget system that will target high-emitting companies. Carbon budget refers to the acceptable quantity of greenhouse gases that can be emitted over a specific period. The methodology is expected to be implemented in 2023.

“The carbon budgets system will compel high-emitting companies to adopt assigned amounts of greenhouse gas emissions as five-year commitment allocations,” he said.

Gungubele said a sectoral emission targets (SETs) framework was also approved by Cabinet in line with South Africa’s implementation of the Paris Agreement of 2015.

“The framework will guide the lead government department’s approach in coordinating the process towards allocating and implementing SETs with sister departments.

“The national departments’ planning instruments or policies and measures (PAMs) seek to mitigate emissions from the sector in line with the sectoral emissions target. Sectoral PAMs are critical for implementing sectoral emission targets,” said Gungubele.

Gungubele said the targets will be defined and allocated as soon as the Climate Change Bill becomes law and will be determined for three rolling five-year periods, which will be reviewed regularly every five years. The minister said Eskom would not be exempt from these codes once they are finalised.

“Eskom is not exempted. All companies are supposed to be affected by the allocation of responsibility for carbon management to meet the national targets,” Gungubele said.

Gungubele said the carbon budget allocation methodology sets the scope for mandatory carbon budget implementation to calculate and allocate company-level carbon budgets.

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