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S.Africa’s new climate policy to curb industry emissions

A new South African climate change policy curbing industry emissions will give the country leverage when it hosts the next round of global climate talks, the environment minister said Tuesday.

The National Climate Change Response Policy, which was approved by cabinet last week, cuts “business as usual” emissions growth by 34 percent in the next decade and 42 percent by 2025, and will introduce limits on heavy polluters in two years.

“The policy as concluded now… is really going to give us quite a whole lot of leverage,” minister Edna Molewa told journalists.

“We are not necessarily going to be waving that document in there but just to illustrate … that as a country we are being really very serious as one of the high emitters, amongst the high emitters of the world, taking action.”

Specific reduction targets will follow within two years for big emitters such as the electricity and liquid fuel sector and users in mining, industry and transport.

The department did not say if the limits would be binding.

“We mustn’t see these as a stick or a carrot. It’s a target for action. So this is not a case of applying a stick to anybody, its providing them with direction of where we want to go,” said Peter Lukey, acting deputy director general of climate change.

The policy comes ahead of South Africa’s hosting of the UN climate talks in December and acknowledges that a lower carbon approach could make some industries vulnerable to fall-out such as mining, manufacturing and transport.

“We have to be completely honest in that in terms of restructuring our economy over the next 20 years there is no doubt that there are certain industries that are going to be affected,” said Lukey.

“The reality of this policy is that everything will not stay the same. And if everything does stay the same, then we’re heading for disaster.”

The continental powerhouse is a significant greenhouse gas contributor but the policy sees emissions peaking between 2020 and 2025 before levelling out and declining in real terms from 2036.

President Jacob Zuma announced the targeted cuts in December 2009.