South Africa’s carbon tax: Aim to ensure zero waste to landfill

The tax launched June 1, 2019, aims to cut emissions by a third next year, 42% by 2025  

By DTE Staff
Last Updated: Monday 22 July 2019
Photo: Getty Images

South Africa's recently introduced carbon tax will ensure zero waste to landfill, reduce greenhouse gas emissions as well boost investments for low carbon alternatives, said Bertie Lourens, CEO of Wasteplan — a Cape Town based on-site waste management company. 

Lourens was speaking at the 2019 SAPICS, The Professional Body for Supply Chain Management, conference held recently in Cape Town.

The carbon tax, launched on June 1, 2019, aims to reduce 34 per cent carbon emissions by 2020 and 42 per cent emissions by 2025. 

South Africa, has exceeded the UK and France in terms of pollution and is soon approaching a situation of running out of landfill space; the inevitable “day full” is on our doorstep, Lourens said. 

“The carbon tax is an attempt to mitigate this consumer behaviour and reduce high greenhouse gas emissions while stimulating investor appetite for low carbon alternatives,” Lourens said, in a release.

“The initial marginal carbon tax rate will be South African Rand (R)120 per tonne of CO2e (carbon dioxide equivalent). With the below thresholds in mind, the effective tax rate is much lower and ranges between R6 and R48 per tonne,” Lourens said, adding the bill will be implemented in stages.

To help businesses transition and adopt low carbon alternatives, the country has come up with various tax-free allowances including an additional allowance of up to 10 per cent for process emissions, and a carbon offsets allowance of 5 to 10 per cent per cent, depending on sector.

To reduce their tax burden, the companies can increasingly work towards investing in renewable energy, cool carbon projects and biogas digesters, and reducing waste to landfill, he suggested.

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  • It is inaccurate, or at least incomplete, to say that the carbon tax aims to reduce 34 per cent carbon emissions by 2020 and 42 per cent emissions by 2025.
    In fact, South Africa has committed to curb its Greenhouse Gas emissions by 34% by 2020, and 42% by 2025, below the business as usual trajectory. In other words, we still allow our emissions to increase, but less. This is a relative reduction - not an absolute one.
    South Africa's current Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction Trajectory (the one that underpins the country's commitment under the Paris Agreement, and guides all climate-related polices to date) provides that national GHG emissions will be allowed to continue to increase until 2025, then plateau for about 10 years, and then only drop.
    It is also expected that with the current tax rate and string of allowances & rebates, the carbon tax will not incentivise such (relative) emissions reduction within this timeframe, at least not until the 2nd phase starting in 2023.

    Posted by: African Climate Reality Project | 5 months ago | Reply