On the 25th of April, the National Council of Provinces voted in favour of adopting the long-awaited Climate Change Bill. This Bill has been in the works since February 2022, and finally some progress is being made.

The principal objective of the Climate Change Bill is to facilitate developments toward an effective response to climate change and enable a lower carbon economy. This Bill serves as a foundation for mechanisms such as carbon budgets and carbon emission targets. The Bill will integrate many principles and goals of international treaties we have signed into domestic law. Further, this Bill incorporates key concepts needed for sustainable future industrial development. The Climate Change Act will accordingly be the foundation for new and current regulations to grow from, for example, the Pollution Prevention Plan, which is currently governed under the Air Quality Act, will be incorporated in the Greenhouse Gas Mitigation Plan governed under the Climate Change Act.

Notwithstanding the above, the Bill has faced criticism particularly on the bases that there is no prescribed penalty for entities that infringe upon carbon emissions limits and therefore there is no incentive to comply with the prescribed standard. Furthermore, the very conception of a Climate Change Bill in a developing economy with limited resources has been questioned especially if one has regard to the resources required to implement and enforce a Bill with such a broad mandate. Many hoped that this Bill would signify the beginning of South Africa revealing their support for clean renewable energy, yet ironically the same day the Climate Change Bill was signed so was the Upstream Petroleum Resources Development Bill (URDP) which aims to grow the fossil fuel industry.

What will it be South Africa? Renewable? or Non-renewable energy?

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