South Africa Pledges to Peak Its Greenhouse Gases by 2025

South Africa promised to arrest its rising greenhouse-gas pollution by 2025, the latest signal that developing countries will contribute to a United Nations-brokered agreement to fight climate change.

Africa’s second-biggest economy will allow its emissions to plateau for about a decade after peaking, before beginning to cut them, the government said Friday in a revised submission to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.

“South Africa is investing heavily in transforming its energy sector,” according to the submission. “In the short term, up to 2025, South Africa faces significant rigidity in its economy, and any policy-driven transition to a low-carbon and climate-resilient society must take into account and emphasize its overriding priority to address poverty and inequality.”

Developing nations from Gabon to China have now spelled out how much they’re prepared to do to curtail the rise in harmful greenhouse gases. Scientists say the pollution is warming the planet and threatens to prolong droughts, melt glaciers and raise sea levels. Envoys to the UN talks aim to broker a deal in Paris in December that will for the first time require all nations to take action.

Indonesia submitted its plan on Thursday. China, Mexico and South Korea are among other countries classed as developing by the UN that made promises.

Emissions Levels

South Africa said emissions will reach a peak between 2020 and 2025 and then plateau for the following decade. It gave an indicative range for pollution levels of 398 megatons to 614 megatons of CO2 between 2025 and 2030.

That broad range gives scope for emissions to keep rising from one year to the next. It compares with the 464 megatons that the World Resources Institute estimates the country emitted in 2012, the most recent data.

The government said it will need funding of $3 billion a year over the next decade to step up investments in renewable electricity, as well as a total of $349 billion over the four decades through 2050 to completely decarbonize its power industry. It needs $450 million for a carbon capture and storage project, and $513 billion for electric cars through 2050.

“These numbers are presented for information to clarify the order of magnitude of mitigation finance and investment requirements,” the government said. “Further work is needed to prepare detailed business plans for finance and investment in mitigation.”


The African nation also pledged to develop an adaptation plan as part of the new climate deal in order to protect its infrastructure from the effects of climate change. To do that, it said it will need to spend $170 million a year for the decade through 2020.

“South Africa has observed and is projecting further trends of marked temperature increases, rainfall variation and rising sea levels as well as an increased frequency of severe weather events,” the country said. “Those who have a greater responsibility for cumulative emissions that have driven up GHG concentrations in the atmosphere should, as a matter of fairness, assist those less responsible.”

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