The South African governments vision

The South African government has a vision for its climate policy. It believes that in designing our policy for the transition to a climate-resilient and low-carbon economy and society, we must balance our mitigation and adaptation response. Our climate response policy will be informed by what is required by science.

We will continue to proactively build the knowledge base and our capacity to adapt to the inevitable impacts of climate change, most importantly by enhancing early warning and disaster reduction systems and in the roll-out of basic services, water resource management, infrastructure planning, agriculture, biodiversity and in the health sector.

Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions must peak, plateau and decline. This means that they must stop growing at the latest by 2020 to 2025, stabilize for up to ten years and then decline in absolute terms.

Over the long term, we will redefine our competitive advantage and structurally transform the economy by shifting from an energy-intensive to a climate-friendly path as part of a pro-growth, pro-development and pro-jobs strategy.

Overall, we believe this would constitute a fair and meaningful contribution to global efforts. We would demonstrate leadership in the multilateral system by committing to a substantial deviation from the baseline, enabled by international funding and technology.

The South African government has developed scenarios for mitigation based on key elements. The Start Now strategic option as outlined in the long-term mitigation scenarios is based, amongst others, on accelerated energy efficiency and conservation across all sectors, including industry, commerce, transport and residential, inter alia through more stringent building standards.

We will invest in the Reach for the Goal strategic option by setting ambitious research and development targets focusing on carbon-friendly technologies, identifying new resources and affecting behavioural change.

Furthermore, regulatory mechanisms as set out in the Scale Up strategic option will be combined with economic instruments under the Use the Market strategic option, with a view to the following:

• Setting ambitious and mandatory (as distinct from voluntary) targets for energy efficiency and in other sub-national sectors. In the next few months each sector will be required to do work to enable it to decide on actions and targets in relation to this overall framework.

• Based on the electricity-crisis response, government's energy efficiency policies and strategies will be continuously reviewed and amended to reflect more ambitious national targets aligned with the LTMS.

• Increasing the price on carbon through an escalating CO2 tax or an alternative market mechanism.

• Diversifying the energy mix away from coal while shifting to cleaner coal by, for example, introducing more stringent thermal efficiency and emissions standards for coal-fired power stations.

• Setting targets for electricity generated from both renewable and nuclear energy sources.

• Laying the basis for a net zero-carbon electricity sector in the long term.

• Encouraging renewable energy through feed-in tariffs.

• Exploring and developing carbon capture and storage (CCS) for coal-fired power stations and all coal-to-liquid (CTL) plants, and not approving new coal-fired power stations without carbon capture readiness.

• Introducing industrial policy that favours sectors using less energy per unit of economic output and building domestic industries in these emerging sectors.

• Setting ambitious and, where appropriate, mandatory national targets for the reduction of transport emissions, including through stringent and escalating fuel efficiency standards, facilitating passenger modal shifts towards public transport, and the aggressive promotion of hybrids and electric vehicles.

Process going forward: 2009 to 2012

The South African government has mandated a clear path for the future. Milestones include a national summit held in March 2009, the conclusion of international negotiations at the end of 2009, and a final domestic policy to be adopted by the end of 2010 after international negotiations have been completed.

The process will culminate in the introduction of a legislative, regulatory and fiscal package to give effect to the strategic direction and policy from now until 2012.

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