IANS | 11 Oct, 2017
South Africa will
introduce a climate change legislation by 2018, as part of its commitments to
the Paris Agreement, the Parliament has said.
The Parliament has been informed of this development by the Department of
Environmental Affairs (DEA), Parliament's Portfolio Committee on Environmental
Affairs (PCEA) said on Tuesday, Xinhua news agency reported.
"The Committee is happy to note that there is such a commitment which will
ensure that South Africa as a country lives up to its commitments to the Paris
Agreement and begins to implement climate change mitigation and adaptation
strategies as part of the peak, plateau and decline trajectory," spokesperson
Philemon Mapulane said.
The legislation, once adopted, will oblige the DEA to make a climate change
impact assessment as a prerequisite for opening any coal-powered stations.
The PCEA believes that a climate change legislation will assist in avoiding
litigation cases and judgments, Mapulane said.
He was referring to South Africa's first climate change court case against the
Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA).
Early this year, Earthlife Africa (ELA), represented by the Center for
Environmental Rights, filed a lawsuit against the DEA, arguing that the
department had granted the Thabametsi power station in Mpumalanga Province an
environmental authorization without adequate information about its potential
climate change impacts.
But lawyers for the DEA argue that, while climate change is a relevant factor
to consider, the regulatory regime does not currently require a climate change
impact assessment as a prerequisite for granting an environmental
In March, the Pretoria High Court reserved judgment on the case.
If ELA is successful, the authorization for Thabametsi Station will be set
aside and referred back to the DEA. The department will then need to consider
the full and final climate change impact assessment, along with public comment
thereon, before making a decision whether to re-issue the authorization.
Such an order by the court would also have wider implications for the
consideration of climate impacts in the authorization of future coal-fired
A climate change legislation has been under consideration for long.
South Africa has presented its White Paper on environment which envisions an
effective climate change response and long-term goals towards a lower-carbon
economy and climate resilient society. It includes proposal to set emissions
reduction outcomes for each significant sector in the economy.