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South Africa’s greenhouse gas emissions on the rise, says report

Greenhouse gas emissions in South Africa rose by 10.4% between 2000 and 2017. 

South Africa’s 7th National Greenhouse Gas Inventory 2000 to 2017 shows an increase in emissions in the energy, product use and waste sectors. The gases are reported under four sectors: Energy, Industrial Processes and Product Use (IPPU), Agriculture, Forestry and Other Land Use (AFOLU) and Waste. 

“The decrease in the net Forestry and Other Land Use sector is due to an increasing land sink. There was an annual average increase of 2% between 2000 and 2009, and then emissions stabilised and declined with an average annual decline of 1%,” said the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment on Tuesday 24 August. 

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The Department released the report as part of South Africa’s commitment in terms of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, which requires countries to not only address climate change but also monitor trends in anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions. 

One of the principal commitments includes developing, publishing and regularly updating national emission inventories of greenhouse gases.  

Parties to the UNFCCC are also obliged to protect and enhance carbon sinks and reservoirs, such as forests and implement measures that could help national and regional climate change adaptation and mitigation. 

The Department said the information gleaned from the Inventory Report supports policy development and decision-making related to a viable climate change mitigation response as South Africa transitions to a low carbon and climate-resilient society as outlined in the National Development Plan’s Vision 2030 and the National Climate Change Response Policy (2011). 

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Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment Minister Barbara Creecy, commented: “The Inventory is also vital in supporting implementation of South Africa’s Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC), to be tabled ahead of the international climate talks in November.  

“It is also important in terms of supporting national imperatives, such as the implementation of the carbon tax, determining carbon budgets and other climate mitigation instruments so we can achieve the country’s developmental and sustainable development goals.”

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The latest Report covers sources of greenhouse gas emissions and removals by sinks, resulting from human or anthropogenic activities for the major greenhouse gases: carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), perfluorocarbons (PFCs), and hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs). Indirect greenhouse gases – carbon monoxide (CO), and oxides of nitrogen (NOX) – are also included for biomass burning. 

“Sulphur hexafluoride (SF6) emissions have not yet been included due to a lack of data. However, the Department is in discussions with Eskom to obtain historical SF6 data so that it can be included in the next inventory.  Furthermore, a threshold has been set for SF6 in the new GHG reporting regulation so that companies will start reporting data,” the department said in a statement. 

The 2017 National Inventory Report, compiled in accordance with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), will be submitted to the UNFCCC to fulfil South Africa’s reporting obligations. 

This is done through National Communications (NCs) every four years and the Biennial Update Reports (BURs) every two years. 

The National GHG Inventory Report 2017 is available online. 

Theresa Smith
Theresa Smith is a conference producer for Clarion Events Africa.

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