Research/academic paper

Mitigation Actions in South Africa

“The country study aims to deepen our understanding of mitigation activity in South Africa, particularly with regard to how the country approaches, describes and defines mitigation actions. It considers three main areas of enquiry from a bottom-up methodological perspective: first, what is a South African Mitigation Action (SAMA)? Second, what are the barriers and challenges to their implementation, and third, how can these challenges be overcome through domestic measures and international support?
Four examples of South African activities to mitigate emissions are described and then analysed; Bus Rapid Transport in Cape Town, the South African Renewables Initiative, the carbon tax and the National Sustainable Settlements Facility. We find from these examples that defining a SAMA is an almost intractably difficult task. Possible new approaches are therefore considered, including SAMA ‘continua’, ‘pyramids’ and ‘decision trees’ to try to identify and deal with issues of attribution and causation of emission reductions. Generally, we find that South Africa is good at identifying, analysing and designing activities to mitigate emissions, but less good at implementation. However, identifying and rating the challenges that the four examples face is revealed as a challenge in itself. Because none of the examples have been successfully implemented, the analysis was necessarily subjective. Two main areas of implementation risk are suggested as those of counteracting vested interests, and availability of finance. Suggestions are made regarding how these implementation challenges might be overcome with appropriate support at the domestic and international levels.”