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Civil society organisations welcome imminent promulgation of the Climate Change Act: A crucial step towards a meaningful response to climate change

30 April 2024 at 1:38 pm

March 2, 2017. South Africa's first climate change lawsuit started today in the Pretoria High Court. Earthlife Africa, represented by the Centre for Environmental Rights (CER) are challenging the decision of the Minister of Environmental Affairs to uphold the environmental authorisation for the proposed Thabametsi coal-fired power plant. Picture: JAMES OATWAY for CER.
March 2, 2017. South Africa's first climate change lawsuit started today in the Pretoria High Court. Earthlife Africa, represented by the Centre for Environmental Rights (CER) are challenging the decision of the Minister of Environmental Affairs to uphold the environmental authorisation for the proposed Thabametsi coal-fired power plant. Picture: JAMES OATWAY for CER.

IMMEDIATE RELEASE
DATE: 30 April 2024

As South Africa celebrates 30 years of democracy, the nation also rejoices in the the long-awaited Climate Change Act, (currently on  the President’s desk for assent) heralding it as a critically important instrument to define, manage, monitor, and implement the nation’s response to climate change challenges.

Years in the making, with the bill first tabled in 2018 and 13 years since the National Climate Change Response White Paper, the Climate Change Act will set the stage for comprehensive adaptation, mitigation, and institutional arrangements. This landmark legislation incorporates the country’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reduction trajectory (the latest Nationally Determined Contribution, in terms of the Paris Agreement) into South African law, signalling a significant stride towards a sustainable future.

Of paramount importance, the Act will take precedence over other climate legislation and mandates the alignment of all laws, policies, and measures of government departments with its provisions. It will imposes obligations on all three tiers of government to map, plan for, and respond to adaptation needs, acknowledging the pressing nature of climate change across society.

For mitigation efforts, the Act will introduce carbon budgets, allocating an amount of GHG emissions to major GHG emitters, and requires the submission of GHG mitigation plans – in which companies must set out how they intend to remain within their budgets. Furthermore, it will establish sectoral emissions targets (SETs), distributing available carbon space across sectors. A draft SETs report has been published for comment by 25 June.

While the enactment of the Climate Change Act will be a milestone achievement, key regulations, including carbon budget and mitigation plan regulations, are still forthcoming. It is imperative that these regulations incorporate sufficiently strict measures to ensure compliance and effectiveness, says Brandon Abdinor, CER Attorney and Head of Pollution and Climate Change Programme.

The success of the Act will hinge upon political will and constructive stakeholder consultation. Now more than ever public participation is encouraged to ensure that all relevant issues and perspectives are addressed in the development of the various policies and laws that will flow from the Climate Change Act.

As South Africa works to increase its resilience to climate impacts and reduce its emissions, the Climate Change Act will stand as a beacon of hope, signalling a firm commitment to safeguarding our planet for future generations.

[End of Press Release]

CONTACT: Lerato Balendran, CER Communications,  lbalendran[@]cer.org.za