JOHANNESBURG, Sept 22 (Reuters) – South Africa’s cabinet has adopted a more ambitious emissions reduction target ahead of a United Nations climate conference in November, the country’s environment department said on Wednesday.
Africa’s biggest emitter of greenhouse gases now aims to keep emissions to a range of 350-420 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (Mt CO2e) by 2030.
That compares with an earlier draft target of 398-440 Mt CO2e announced by the environment department in March, which a climate commission established by President Cyril Ramaphosa recommended should be improved upon.
The Global Carbon Atlas estimates South Africa emitted around 480 Mt CO2e in 2019.
The updated target forms part of a so-called Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) which will be submitted in the buildup to the UN’s COP26 conference in Glasgow.
“The NDC represents South Africa’s contribution to global efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and mitigate climate change,” the environment department said in a statement.
Major South African polluters include state-owned power utility Eskom, which generates the vast majority of the country’s power by burning coal, and fuel and chemical producer Sasol (SOLJ.J).
Under Ramaphosa, who became head of state in February 2018, the government has promised to take swifter action to combat climate change and unveiled reforms aimed at embracing power generation from renewable sources.
Eskom is pitching for billions of dollars of funding to help finance its plans to shift away from coal and towards renewable energy. It hopes to announce a financing deal at COP26 and is talking to the U.S., British, French, and German governments as well as the World Bank about funding.
On Wednesday Sasol said it had improved on its emissions reduction target for 2030 after it came under pressure from investors and environmental groups.