Civil society meetings on INDC submission

By Happy Khambule

On June 8th and 10th, Project 90 by 2030 facilitated civil society meetings in Cape Town and Johannesburg respectively with the intention of formulating a joint civil society submission to the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) regarding South Africa’s Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDC).  Participants included representatives of environmental organisations, the labour movement and faith communities.

At the meetings, WWF outlined some of the key principles and figures relating to mitigation INDC.  For one, countries are able to set their targets for emission reduction based on either a fixed year (e.g. 1990, as for the Kyoto Protocol), or on a percentage below a particular business as usual (BAU) emissions scenario.   There are also different methodologies that can be used to measure emissions, namely absolute total emissions, per capita emissions, emission intensity or emission intensity per sector.  South African upholds the pledge it made at Copenhagen in 2009, for a 34% emission reduction by 2020 and 42% by 2025, and its INDC is likely to reflect this.  However, the pledge was conditional on support such as finance, capacity building, and technology, and the current “business as usual” scenario was not part of the pledge.

DEA’s presentation by proxy outlined South Africa’s current plan for its INDC.  The country is calling for a rigorous assessment of fairness in the new agreement, emphasising the need for an equity reference framework.  Its stance is for stronger mitigation so that there is less pressure for adaptation and less loss and damage.  The country will also submit an adaptation INDC and is busy with a planning and policy process, needs and costs assessment, assessment of adaptation investments made in the past five years, and identification of programmes and projects for implementation.  It sees adaptation as the “centre piece” of the 2015 agreement.  At provincial and local government level, South Africa has already prepared a national adaptation strategy, national adaptation plan, rural climate adaptation plan, and long term adaptation scenarios.

Project 90 by 2030 calls on South African civil society needs to pressure government to insist on a legally binding agreement in Paris, but points out that for this to be effective, South Africa needs to increase its mitigation ambition.  The lack of policy coherence between government departments is identified as a significant challenge in addressing climate change, and the organisation says that climate change policy needs to be streamlined into relevant policies.

Benchmarks for the South African INDC were discussed at the meetings, and a working group was established to develop those benchmarks in more detail. On the adaptation INDC, recommendations from the meetings include increased transparency of the allocation and disbursement of adaptation funds, institution of an enabling and enforceable legislative framework for the National Climate Change Response, a rejection of genetically modified organisms as an adaptation strategy, a need to focus on building community level capacity, and a prioritisation of labour intensity over economic efficiency.

The deadline for the submission of the South African INDC is in October, and DEA will hold consultations in Cape Town in July, and Gauteng in September.