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SA pledges to ‘peak’ global warming emissions by 2025

By using carbon tax, goals for specific industries and carbon budgets for companies.

South Africa promised to arrest its rising greenhouse-gas pollution by 2025, the latest signal that developing countries will contribute to a new 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 submission to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.

Hours after publishing the pledge, the government asked the UN to remove the document, pending revisions that will be made later in the day, John Hay, a spokesman for the UNFCCC said by phone from Bonn, Germany. He had no details of the planned revisions. Albi Modise, a spokesman for South Africa’s Department of Environmental Affairs said by phone he needs to check details with his office.

The country said in the earlier document that it will use a carbon tax, set goals for specific industries and adopt carbon budgets for companies to meet the pledge.

“South Africa is investing heavily in transforming its energy sector,” the submission said. “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 threaten to prolong droughts, melt glaciers and raise sea levels. Envoys to the UN talks aim to broker a new 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 by the UN as developing that made promises.

Emissions levels

South Africa said emissions will reach a peak between 2020 and 2025 and then plateau for the next 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.”

Vulnerability

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. “Given that poor countries and communities have the least responsibility for the challenge of global climate change but are the most vulnerable to its impacts, adaptation to the adverse effects of climate change is also a global responsibility and concern.”

©2015 Bloomberg News

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