South Africa’s Climate Change Bill heads to Ramaphosa to be signed into law

 ·26 Apr 2024

The National Council of Provinces (NCOP) has passed the Climate Change Bill, which will now be sent to the President’s desk for assent.

Adopted by the NCOP on 25 April 2024, and the National Assembly on 24 October 2023, the Climate Change Bill is the first piece of legislation in South Africa that is specifically aimed at addressing the effects and impact of climate change.

Introduced to Parliament in 2022 by the Minister of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment, Barbara Creecy, the Bill outlines six purposes, which include:

  • Implementing a unified approach to address climate change and its impacts;
  • Manage climate change impacts by improving adaptive capacity and resilience, aiming for social, economic, and environmental resilience and a strong national adaptation strategy;
  • Contribute fairly to global efforts to limit greenhouse gas concentrations to prevent dangerous interference with the climate system;
  • Transition justly to a low carbon economy and society, considering national circumstances;
  • Fulfill South Africa’s international climate change commitments and obligations;
  • Protect and preserve the planet for current and future generations.

Creecy said in a parliamentary debate last year that the bill “will enable the orderly reduction of greenhouse gas emissions through the implementation of sectoral emission targets to guide us on our journey to the mid-century net zero commitment.”

Additionally, the minister said that it will “ensure we reach our country’s Nationally Determined Contribution by assigning individual enterprises carbon budgets and facilitating public disclosure of our progress.”

The legislation mandates that national, provincial, and local governments evaluate all potential climate risks and anticipated effects, and develop corresponding policies, plans, and programs.

Additionally, it specifies the duties of various governmental levels, including national, provincial, and local, to ensure that each entity is required to contribute to climate change mitigation and collaborate efficiently.

In line with this, it is expected that provincial and municipal governments establish climate change committees/forums. These committees will collaborate with the presidential climate commission to manage, coordinate, and report on climate change effects within their jurisdictions.

South Africa, along with global peers, has committed itself to various optimistic climate change agreements – including that of an energy transition toward renewables.

These commitments largely ground this Bill.

According to the Disaster Risk Finance Diagnostic report by National Treasury, South Africa “is highly exposed to climatic shocks, particularly droughts, which undermine efforts to stimulate growth,” resulting in over 3,000 deaths and R172 billion (just under R29 billion was insured) in losses experienced over the last 51 years.

This does not include the approximately R2 billion in damages caused by the floods in KwaZulu Natal at the end of 2023.

The Bill hopes to provide a legal framework of navigating this.

The full bill can be read below:

Read: South Africa can’t afford to ‘climate-proof’ its infrastructure

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