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COP26: Advancing South Africa’s just energy transition

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The Paris Agreement, which is a legally binding international treaty on climate change, outlines ambitious goals of limiting global warming to below 2 °C above preindustrial era levels while pursuing efforts to limit the increase to 1.5 °C by reducing carbon dioxide emissions worldwide. Some countries have been raising their commitments as intended, with ambitious objectives set by the European Union (EU), the UK and Japan, besides others. Nonetheless, the world is likely on course to warm by about 2.5 °C by the end of the century, according to research and consultancy group Wood Mackenzie. Many countries are not on track for net zero by 2050 and governments still have much work to do to clarify their strategies for reaching their respective objectives. South Africa’s Presidential Climate Change Coordinating Commission has published recommendations for a carbon-reduction commitment and has confirmed a long-term target for achieving net-zero carbon emissions by this date. Yet, South Africa is unlikely to reach the net-zero emissions target by 2050. Its economy – and energy system – is one of the most coal-dependent in the world and government’s plans still allow for a significant amount of coal in the future power mix. This is despite the country’s complementary wind and solar resources being among the best renewable-energy resources in the world, available on vast amounts tracts of unused land. Creamer Media’s ‘COP26: Advancing South Africa’s just energy transition’ considers the challenges that the world and, in particular, South Africa are facing with regard to reaching their climate-change mitigation goals. The report considers South Africa’s Nationally Determined Contribution; the country’s reliance on coal and the its converse potential it has as a preferred global destination for foreign and domestic decarbonisation investment while ensuring a just transition; South Africa’s renewables capability; and the consequences of delaying climate action.

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