Progress on climate change mitigation negotiations, Implementation of the Green Economy, Determination of unlicensed landfills & incentives to boost waste recycle: Departmental briefing

Environment, Forestry and Fisheries

04 November 2014
Chairperson: Mr S Mabilo (ANC) (Acting)
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Meeting Summary

The Committee met with the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) to be briefed on the progress of climate change negotiations with the upcoming twentieth Congress of the Parties (COP) in Lima, Peru as well as waste management in SA currently.

The waste briefing afforded Members information on the roles and responsibilities of key role-players, the status on landfill sites in SA, the licensing process and historical background, action plans for the licensing of waste disposal site projects, challenges in provinces and interventions.

Members raised a plethora of questions including the vetting process and approval of environmental assessment practitioners, funding, reporting, monitoring of sites and the burning of waste. Members were particularly concerned about non-compliance, especially of municipalities, and steps against this non-compliance. Discussion was held around landfills and dumps creating employment, inter-department/ministerial work, sorting at the source and what the Department ultimately envisioned for the management of waste.

Moving to climate change negotiations, Members were provided with a briefing on the progress of negotiations under the Durban Platform for the upcoming United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) COP20. The briefing outlined the progress made toward Paris in this year, UNFCCC events and meetings held in 2014, political dynamics and the emerging architecture and SA’s approach.

Looking at mitigation potential and emission reductions, Members were informed about SA’s green house gas mitigation potential analysis and objectives, areas for mitigation potential, additional mitigation work and setting Desired Emission Reduction Objectives. For the Green Fund programme progress, Members were told about the number of projects involved, associated funding provided in the specific provinces, thematic windows and jobs created.

Members were interested in the BRICS relationship for climate change negotiations, funding implications of international commitments, SA’s take on other countries flouting the global efforts to reduce emissions and temperature, commitments made and specific commitment periods.

The Committee also wanted to know about the related costs of the marginal abatement curve, what other departments were doing; the percentage of economic growth the mitigated estimate was calculated on, commencement for industry to submit mitigation plans, the state of readiness for implementing the carbon tax and the mitigation of freight from road to rail.

Meeting report

Election of Acting Chairperson
Ms Tyhileka Madubela, Committee Secretary, opened the meeting by asking for nominations to appoint an Acting Chairperson in terms of Rule 130 of the National Assembly.

Mr S Makhubele (ANC) nominated Mr S Mabilo (ANC).

This was seconded by Mr M Shelembe (IFP).

The nomination was accepted, and there were no further nominations or objections

Adoption of agenda for the day

After amending the order of the briefings for the day, the agenda for the meeting was adopted.  

The Chairperson noted the apologies of the Minister and Deputy Minister as well as the standing apology of Mr J Mthembu (ANC). He informed Members that he had a chance to speak to Mr Mthembu who was recovering well and was in high spirits. Mr T Bonhomme (ANC) was also absent with an apology for being ill and Ms H Kekana (ANC) was recovering in hospital after undergoing an operation.

Ms J Steenkamp (DA) suggested the Committee send a “get well soon” card to all the Members who were ill.

Waste Disposal Sites in SA

Mr Mark Gordon, DEA DDG: Chemicals and Waste Management, took the Committee through the outline of the presentation. Waste management was firmly embedded in Section 24 of the Constitution called the “environmental rights”. Section 43 of the National Environmental Management Waste Act set out the mandate for the licensing of waste management activities in SA.  The licensing of hazardous waste rested with the National Department and the National Minister. Hazardous waste was the big industrial waste which got dumped. Private companies set up landfill sites and charged for the disposal of toxic waste and these sites were well engineered to world class standards. General waste was normal litter, plastic and household waste which municipalities were mostly responsible for. Those licences were issued by the provincial department across the country. 


Ms T Stander (DA) was not happy with the updated presentations because it resulted in more printing. She asked that presenters submitted updated presentations before it was printed to ensure there was no waste created by the Committee.   

The Chairperson took this point.  

Mr Gordon took responsibility for this. He explained the Minister convened a meeting last week Friday with the provinces and MECs. The updates from this engagement only came through last night. He apologised for this. Continuing with the presentation, local government was mostly responsible for establishing by-laws, ordinances etc to regulate waste in terms of littering, burning of waste, pollution, uncontrolled salvaging of waste from landfill sites and generally the security of landfill sites in terms of fencing etc. Compliance, monitoring and enforcement was a joint responsibility of the national and provincial departments and the Green Scorpions (which operated at national, provincial and local level) for the monitoring of illegal activities at the landfill sites. 

Looking at the status of landfill sites in SA, currently there were a total of 826 landfill sites – 489 were licensed and operated in a legal framework while 247 were not licensed and operated illegally and 90 were privately owned. Looking at the evolution of the legislation in SA, some of the landfill sites had been operating for 60 to 100 years before a license was even required. 187 of the sites were currently being licensed and a number of sites were in fact reaching the end of their life cycles as identified in the audits conducted and they would be decommissioned and not licensed for operation at all.  

With the licensing process for all landfill sites, all of the licensing happened in two phases – the first phase was to conduct an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) through the provincial department and then a waste management licence was then only issued by the same department after the EIA was conducted. The provincial department was the competent authority in this case which was given 14 days to acknowledge the receipt of the application. Public participation was a requirement in this process and depending on the complexity of the site, this could take up to 60 days. Thereafter a report was submitted while the province had 30-35 day to review the report before final authorisation was issued. Coupled with this was the Record of Decision (ROD) which must be issued by the Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) which entailed issues around the engineering of a site. Often some of the landfill sites were close to catchments and rivers and there was a danger of water pollution. The ROD basically was conditions set by the DWS controlling pollution emanating from the site. Was the EI was approved and issued together with the ROD, then only was a waste management licence issued by the provincial department.

Mr Gordon discussed the licensing project which was commissioned in 2007 through a study conducted by the Department where a strategy was formulated for how the Department would support municipalities in capacity to manage sites and in terms of how to licence projects. In 2008, the Department licensed a total of 88 non-waste disposal facilities which were transfer stations at a municipal level. It was found that some of these sites could be problematic in terms of litter and mismanagement. Following this, a total of 581 sites were identified which required attention and 341 of the sites needed to be licensed. 

In terms of the progress of this project, in the 2012/13 financial year, a total of 56 waste sites were licensed and these came at a cost for EIAs, RODs and the licences themselves. In the 2013/14 financial year, a total of 15 sites were identified for license in terms of the five year plans but a Cabinet decision was taken for the Department to look at all of the sites which needed to be licensed- this was the current work plan. In 2013/14, 84 sites were licensed, in 2014/15, a total of 122 sites were identified to be licensed, in 2015/16, a total of 70 sites and 18 sites in 2016/17.  The Department had organised itself to licence all of these sites. For the current financial year, the Department approached the Municipal Infrastructure Agency of SA (MISA) which had agreed to fund the provinces of Mpumalanga, Eastern Cape, Free State and some sites in KZN. The Department then funded the remainder of the provinces. A new tender was issued to cover the additional sites. 

Mr Gordon summarised the challenges in the provinces were in delays linked to the poor quality of EIA reports complied by consultants, municipalities taking a long time to sign reports, municipalities changed sites to be licensed, problems of land ownership and specialist studies which took time.   

With interventions, the Department engaged MISA for funding needed at that stage, there was a high-level team working on the project, monthly reports submitted by municipalities along with the Department conducting audits and site verification studies to verify some of the information. This was done across the country. The total cost of the project was R18 million – to date, an amount of R12 million was paid.  

Mr T Hadebe (DA) wanted to know who did the vetting and approval of the environmental assessment practitioners. 

Mr Gordon answered that there was a tender process advertised for practitioners or consultant companies who were involved in the business of doing EIAs. Quite a rigorous procurement process was undergone before appointments were made. Every single applicant had to be an independent, accredited environmental assessment practitioner. There was a process to establish competence. He understood the inference of competence and expertise in the Member’s question but it was an ongoing challenge. 

Mr S Makhubele (ANC) did not see North West outlined when the funding of the provinces was discussed – who was funding this province or why was it omitted? He also wanted to know if the Municipal Infrastructure Support Agency (MISA) guaranteed it would fund the remainder of the project. On reporting, he asked if all those role players meant to report monthly were complying or were there challenges in this regard.

Mr Gordon indicated that MISA did come to the party with R40 million allocated for the first round but there was no guaranteed money for the second phase. DEA found money itself so there were no issues of funding and the project would be completed. Provinces were obliged to send the Department the reports before the Mintech meeting conducted. Some data was missing or not updated but the Department circumvented this by staff dealing directly with municipalities. There was a big team in this regard.

Mr Shelembe asked how the Department ensured that proper public participation was done and there was proper communication to the communities and those who would be affected by the project. Once sites were approved, how was monitoring then carried out?

Mr Gordon explained that the project had to be advertised in newspapers, libraries and public places where affected and interested people were made aware. There was also an obligation to use the media to communicate the project and allow for comments to come through. He was not aware of communities being marginalised or unaware of projects – often it was the fault of the municipality for some of the mismanagement in this regard. The law stipulated projects must be advertised with the advert submitted to the provincial authority which controlled the process for evidence. This was done.

Ms Steenkamp found that the burning of waste was technically working against the air quality branch of the Department – because of this, was the Department, in future, looking more at the recycling of waste as opposed to burning? There were also health risks from burning waste. What were the action steps then against municipalities for non-compliance? She saw evidence of “ugly” landfill sites as opposed to the “pretty” ones seen in the presentation.

Mr Gordon made it clear that the burning of waste was illegal – there was no permit or law which allowed for the burning of waste. When waste was burnt, municipalities had to take action in terms of its own by-laws which governed the burning of waste, pollution, smoke, littering etc. Often it was found municipalities did not enforce its own by-laws. The three areas of concern found across the country when it came to the municipal problem of litter and waste was (1) lack of infrastructure, (2) no enforcement of by-laws and (3), awareness, capacity building and education. There were risks associated but in terms of action taken, at a national, provincial and municipal level, there was the Green Scorpions. Licence-agreements were the tool for controlling compliance at the national and provincial level – the licence conditions would stipulate, burning of waste not allowed or littering not allowed. At illegal dumps there were no licences and this was what the Department was focused on with a number of landfill sites shut down. There were concerns about there not being enough landfill space and there were consequences for where waste went when illegal sites were shut down. In essence there was a balance between the licensing of unlicensed sites, compliance with licensed sites and the issue of illegal/unlawful sites.     

Dr B Holomisa (UDM) thought the images of well managed landfill sites were misleading given the lack of refuse collection in a number of areas. In every corner of many townships and informal settlements one would find a dump and this was a health hazard and explained the scourge of rats. He suggested a clean-up campaign to create jobs for those needy in such communities. The work could even be allocated according to streets and groups of people looking for jobs. This could create small business people and some provision could be made for them to purchase basic equipment to collect the waste and dump it at an allocated site for collection by the municipality. He saw many poorly managed waste sites but felt the situation could be turned around to practically create jobs. Recycling did not take off in communities even though there was a lot of noise around it.

Mr Gordon agreed and said the Department was focused on a recycling economy and waste valorisation. The Department envisaged waste being diverted away from landfill sites with there being less and less landfill sites in the country. This would mean less onerous work for the Department in terms of licensing and enforcement and compliance. There was much value in waste so it should not be going to landfills and the Department had plans in place to deal with plastic recycling. The Department did not advocate the burning of waste. There was wealth in waste and the recycle economy needed to be promoted. Jobs would be created through this value in waste and there was a big project on waste diversion. The target for recycling was 25% for the next five years – it was currently at 10%. Interventions also included buy-back centres in large townships where communities got paid for bringing in waste. Added to this were recycling centres where people got paid for the bringing in of waste.     

Ms Stander asked who the ultimate role-players were in creating challenges because issues were coming from somewhere. These were issue like poor EIA Reports, refusal of municipalities to sign forms, insufficient information etc. It seemed as though municipalities were their own hindrance to getting landfill sites licensed so how were these municipalities taken to task? How was the Department trying to communicate the importance of the matter to municipalities? What sort of inter-department or inter-ministerial work was happening between DEA and the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (CogTA) to try to resolve these issues? Essentially she wanted to know why there were such delays and challenges. When she was a councillor in the Eastern Cape she had received many complaints about the Bosmansrivermond landfill site from residents nearby. The community suffered terribly when the waste was burnt but the municipality denied this was occurring. She asked if any formal complaint was lodged with the Department in this specific case.

Mr Gordon responded that the Department worked very closely with CogTA and the SA Local Government Association (SALGA) with training and development, awareness raising, tariff models, collections models and standards.  Support was also provided to municipalities particularly through the Integrated Waste Management Plans connected to Integrated Development Plans (IDPs). Often these plans were not being implemented and waste management was not being prioritised but SALGA and CogTA were assisting in promoting waste management and for it to be prioritised as an urgent matter at a municipal level. His branch at the Department did not receive any formal complaints from the Eastern Cape but he would take the matter forward if the Member provided him with more information.  

Ms Nosipho Ngcaba, DEA DG, outlined municipal and national functions and mentioned that there was an issue with the capacity of municipalities with license applications not even submitted. The approach of the Department was to engage municipalities to create awareness in waste service. There was also the challenge of the provision of financing for the function. Most rural municipalities had limited budgets where other services would be prioritised. The Municipal Infrastructure Grant (MIG) did not clearly outline what funding should be allocated to waste management infrastructure. Furthermore, waste management was a scientific function which needed to be designed and planned appropriately – some municipalities did not even have the structure for waste management in place. In the last five years, DEA had established some level of understanding about the importance of waste management as a priority function. Currently 74% of South Africans were receiving waste collection services. A waste service policy was developed to deal with the indigents who could not afford to pay for this service. Waste collection was different to other services in that while water and electricity, for example, could be switched off if the bill was not paid, while waste would be there regardless if the service was paid for or not. The project of licensing was a large one and involved the earmarking of funds for waste management for all municipalities. While this allocation was not enough, it was a start and the Department needed to augment what was being provided. There was also the waste management information centre but the submission of provincial and municipal reports were an ongoing challenge. With the environmental practitioners, the Department might come back to the Committee to fine tune those provisions in the National Environmental Management Act (NEMA)   

Ms Manketsi Tlhape, North West MEC: Department of Rural, Environmental and Agricultural Development, indicated that the municipalities in the North West were ensuring there were budgets to address waste management. She fully agreed that every corner turned into a dumping site but the national Department was driving buy-back centres. There also needed to be a mind shift amongst constituencies. The North West provincial government held the hands of municipalities and had distributed wheelie bins in many areas. She hoped the buy-back centres would eliminate the illegal dumping site on every corner. It was important to understand why South Africans did not consider the environment or littered.

The Chairperson asked why “sorting at the source” was so difficult to implement especially in the instance of domestic waste. He asked why the message of waste as wealth was not getting across to communities. How far was the Department in converting waste to energy? At a previous Committee meeting, Mr Gordon had informed the Committee that Sweden even needed to import waste from Norway. He had done his research and this was true because 99% of the waste in Sweden was used.

Mr Gordon indicated the Department had fast-tracked sorting at the source and by the beginning of the next financial year, a regulation would be declared nationally to enforce waste separation and recycling at source.

Ms Ngcaba said the Department did not have a policy as yet on dealing with waste for energy. Waste for energy was encouraged because it minimised methane gas in the ground because of the harmful effects of methane on climate change. The Department had a position which was driven by the climate change policy but regulations or guidelines on waste to energy had not been developed. Once the pricing strategy was finalised the Department would be in a better position to better promote separation at source particularly with the incentives involved.  

Mr Makhubele felt interest needed to be generated amongst people to ensure they felt somewhat bound to participate as an obligation and responsibility.

Ms Ngcaba agreed more needed to be done with regards to public participation and awareness. A lot of activism was required in the area of managing waste. 

Ms Steenkamp questioned whether the Green Scorpions had a function to play in building materials being dumped illegally in a local municipality in her constituency of Potchefstroom. Such dumps were also very dangerous because children from the rural community nearby played on it. She found the introduction of wheelie bins in Potchefstroom was helping in getting rid of some illegal dumping sites but the problem currently was that the dumping trucks were did not have the tipping function. These again were two ideas working against each other. 

Mr Gordon responded that dumping building rubble was illegal. 

Ms Ngcaba added that interactions around tipper trucks and wheelie bins needed to be organised. 

Ms Tlhape felt the efforts needed to be coordinated. Potchefstroom had a call-centre to make complaints known and then the by-laws could be enforced in this way. Employment could be created where the tippers did not work. She supported the idea of converting waste to energy to move away from landfills. There was already contestation over land and then land needed to be allocated as a waste site.  

Ms Stander stated landfills were obviously a problem so the Department needed to be moving away from them. She wanted the Department to elaborate on how it envisaged waste being handled from the source to disposal to reuse and what timelines would be involved in such a mind map. Essentially, where was waste management going in SA to move away from landfill sites? She also wanted to know if the environmental levies charged by municipalities were a municipal introduction or a national suggestion/regulated levy.

Mr Gordon explained the Department envisaged waste valorisation. The diversion of waste from landfill sites would be pushed to get recycling higher up on the waste value chain. The problem was that waste pickers sought waste and this would be a major issue if sites were closed. One of the projects of the Department was to formalise waste pickers through a co-op and into a small enterprise. It was a fine balance between making sure some people had access to waste and pushing recycling higher up on the waste value chain.

Ms Ngcaba was not as optimistic as Mr Gordon. She agreed that the Department wanted to move away from landfills but there would always be a landfill site of sorts. When recycling happened, there would be a small amount of waste produced which would have to go somewhere – either to the air or soil. The other big task in reducing the dependence on landfill sites was the need to close landfill sites – this was not a small job and needed to be done according to specific requirements. This was also where the importance of licensing was displayed. It would be misleading to say in the long-run there would be no landfill sites but the intention of minimising what went to the site was there. This was the idea of waste minimisation because 0% waste policy in SA was not realistic there were also no clear examples of countries operating with completely no waste. The formalisation of waste pickers was already in the regulations which spoke to how small groupings were formalised and able to extract a livelihood out of waste with health and wellbeing protected. Her mind map of waste management included a pricing strategy to put value to different waste streams and provide an orderly arrangement and links between big industries and smaller buy-back centres. The pricing strategy was being worked on with Treasury. The levies were municipal introductions. The only national levies were on plastic bags and tyres. There were no set levies on the other waste streams at this point in time. The environmental levy dealt more with the pricing of carbon. A Waste Bureau would also facilitate waste planning by key industries as major players in recycling.     

Ms Maluleke asked what the Department was doing about the landfill sites found along the side of roads in specific areas especially when the wind came and blew the waste into the road. She was also concerned about the loss of employment when landfill sites were closed and where the waste would then go.

Mr Gordon answered that this was illegal and as already outlined, municipalities often did not have the capacity to monitor and enforce. The Department would need to work closely with the provinces and municipalities on clean-up campaigns but it was a challenge. A number of methods were used – one was the carrot-and-stick approach to enforce regulations while another was incentives through the recycling economy.

Progress on the 20th Session of the Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC (COP20) and the 10th Session of COP serving as the meeting of parties to the Kyoto Protocol
Ms Judy Beaumont: DDG: Climate Change and Air Quality, DEA, provided background to the briefing noting the UNFCCC COP17, held in Durban, set up a four-year negotiation process for a new agreement to be reached in 2015 to apply to global emissions after 2020. This was known as the Durban Platform. The UNFCCC COP 18 in Doha adopted an amendment to the Kyoto Protocol (the Doha Amendment) to secure the second commitment period. At this COP, the Ad hoc Working Group on the Kyoto Protocol (AWG KP) and the Ad hoc Working Group on Long term Cooperative Action (AWG LCA) was terminated and the agenda for a multi-year plan of work for negotiations under the two workstreams of the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform (ADP), to come into effect by 2020 was confirmed. The UNFCCC COP 19 in Warsaw outlined decisions required under the Ad Hoc Working Group for the Durban Platform (ADP) towards the adoption of a new legal instrument by December 2015, established the Warsaw International Mechanism on Loss and  Damage, consolidated the adaptation agenda, advanced the capitalisation of the Green Climate Fund (GCF) and mobilised US$100 million for the Adaptation Fund and made progress towards the finalisation of the Kyoto Protocol accounting rules necessary for ratification of the Protocol’s second commitment period.

Looking at the progress towards Paris in 2014, COP17 in Durban in 2011 established the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform (ADP) which was a four year negotiation of the new agreement for 2015 and an increase in the level of ambition, COP18 in Doha in 2012 established the Doha Amendment which terminated the AWG KP which confirmed the ADP Agenda to come into effect by 2020. COP19 in Warsaw in 2013 outlined the required ADP decisions for 201, the Warsaw International Mechanism on Loss and Damage was established, the adaptation agenda was consolidated, the Green Climate Fund (GCF) and progress was made on the KP accounting rules for the second commitment period.

UNFCCC events and meetings held in 2014 included the UNFCCC in Bonn, Germany held 10-14 March 2014.
  This meeting focused on the second session of the ADP that aimed at building a new global climate agreement and drive greater immediate climate action under the UNFCCC. Another meeting was held in Bonn from 4-15 June 2014 where a ministerial round table under the Kyoto Protocol and ADP took place in the first two days of the session in June to try and raise the level of ambition. Sadly, the two Ministerial Meetings could not help in this regard and the most tangible outcome was that Parties mandated the co-Chairs to produce a non-paper that would facilitate discussions at the next meeting in October 2014 ADP prior to COP 20.

Ms Beaumont discussed the UN Secretary-General’s Climate Summit which was attended by over 120 heads of state and government. The current round of UNFCCC negotiations should conclude in 2015. To generate political momentum towards the 2015 agreement, the UN Secretary General hosted a Climate Summit in New York on 23 September 2014. Leaders committed to finalise a meaningful, universal new agreement under the UNFCCC at COP 21 in Paris in 2015, to arrive at a first draft of such an agreement at COP 20, in Lima, in December 2014 and for parties to submit their Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) for the new agreement, well before Paris.

In terms of political dynamics, the negotiations under the UNFCC towards the adoption of a new legal instrument in December 2015 should be seen in a wider global political debate over differentiation of responsibilities in international relations. Middle income and key emerging countries were expected to assume greater responsibilities. Developed countries refused the retention of existing binary division in the UNFCCC between developed and developing countries. Attempts to reclassify countries posed a challenge to traditional regional groupings, North-South configuration and political alliances.  Five key political issues faced the climate change negotiations:
Differentiation and how the Paris agreement reflects equity and the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities. What was emerging was a momentum on the principle of non-backsliding. Whatever the countries committed to within the pre-2020 period should not be retrogressive.
How long was the next commitment period? Some countries proposed 2020-2025, while others proposed 2020-2030. SA was not attached to any length of commitment period so long as countries committed to ambitious emissions limits / cuts.
How will the international climate regime approach countries’ commitments? There were two proposals on this:
Many developing countries’ view on this was that every country should submit upfront information on their commitment plans, for the purpose of clarity and understanding, as well as to allow ex ante consideration of their nationally determined contributions by the international community. The ex ante assessment process will lead to a review of or revising of the INDCs before inscription in the 2015 agreement
The USA’s approach says that these INDCs should be submitted by countries to what they call a “sunshine process”. Under this process countries (with contributions from civil society) will do an assessment of each other’s INDCs but no further action will be taken after this step. The sunshine process was intended for transparency and information purposes only. SA’s view was that a ‘sunshine process’ in the lead up to Paris should be followed by a more rigorous ex-ante process in 2016, after the finalisation of the new agreement. The ‘sunshine process’ was in South Africa’s view not enough to produce the outcome which we required.
The scope and question of the INDCs? Mitigation only or mitigation, Adaptation, technology, Capacity building and transparency? SA was of the view that the scope was agreed in Durban at COP17, and that all elements should be included not just mitigation.
What will be the legal form of the 2015 agreement? The key issue was which elements of the 2015 agreement will be legally binding and which will be captured through decisions - which were legally much weaker. SA was of the view that the 2015 agreement should be a legally binding document in a form of a Protocol to the UNFCCC. It was unacceptable to have mitigation efforts being the only legal element whilst adaptation support continued to be voluntary.

These political dynamics gave rise to two competing architecture paradigms:
A top-down Kyoto Protocol-style agreement driven by the requirements of science. This involved multilateral commitments with inclusive and equitable participation, internationally legally binding on all parties, common multilaterally agreed rules and criteria and a level of ambition that was informed by science (but also accounted for national circumstance and priorities)
A bottom-up style driven by a pledge and review system with a unilateral and self-determined pledged domestic targets, policies and measures, domestically legal commitments, domestically determined rules and criteria, ambition was informed by national priorities and circumstances and “internationalised” through reporting and review procedures.    

Ms Beaumont explained the emerging architecture which was that
although the negotiations were yet to address the issue of the legal form, the negotiations had progressed on the form, scope and structure of the 2015 agreement. The following picture was starting to emerge The Paris agreement that was applicable to all should give meaning and effect to the principles of equity and Common But Differentiated Responsibilities & Respective Capacities (CBDR & RC) through provisions that reflect common and specific Party commitments, including to submit, implement and report on nationally determined  quantified economy-wide emission reduction targets for developed countries, aggregate developed country efforts, submit, implement and report on nationally determined mitigation programmes and actions by developing countries, conduct a strengthened Measurement, Reporting and Verification (MRV) process, participate in periodic reviews of the implementation and adequacy of the provisions of the Convention and its instruments, formulate and implement national adaptation plans, provide and mobilise financial and technology development and transfer support for developing country mitigation and adaptation programmes and action, particularly for Least Developed Countries (LDCs), Africa and Small Islands Developing States (SIDS) and provide capacity building support to developing countries. The Paris agreement should also strengthen and enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of climate action through provisions to strengthen institutional linkages between various mechanisms created under the UNFCCC, for example, between the Adaptation Committee and the Technology Executive Committee with the Standing Committee on Finance and the Green Climate Fund (GCF) and other operating entities of the Convention’s Financial Mechanism. The GCF will serve as the major financial mechanism through which the climate finance will flow after the year 2020.

SA’s approach included chairing the G77 and China in 2015, and Africa will co-chair the ADP, which will be challenging, and provide opportunities to further the country’s vision for a post-2015 climate regime. Important elements included that Paris 2015 will be the critical moment - but LIMA COP 20 will also be crucial. Significant progress should be made there. The need to achieve progress both in the two permanent Subsidiary Bodies, i.e., SBSTA and SBI, as well as in the ADP discussions, issues of Loss and Damage were crucial to developing countries as well as a Response Measures Forum to deal with trade related impacts from responses to climate change. Agriculture (adaptation) was also a key issue for developing countries - these discussions needed to progress. There was a need to see progress towards mobilizing $100 billion and full operationalization of the Green Climate Fund. Lima had to conclude draft Elements of the Negotiation Text - this should receive more focus. SA’s view was that all elements must be treated equally. Those that were consulted included the SA UNFCCC Delegation, national / public consultations held the auspices of this portfolio committee, the Intergovernmental Committee (IGCCC) and the National Committee on Climate Change (NCCC), the Global Governance Committee (GGC) and the national Stakeholder Consultation session.

Dr Holomisa suggested SA piggy-back on the current relationship with the BRICS countries for agreement at the level of the G77 to be held in China. This would allow for easier negotiating at the bargaining table. He knew it was late but it was something to consider. SA was a building block of this group and it was good to lead by example.  

Ms Beaumont agreed but clarified that under climate change negotiations, SA was part of the Brazil, SA, India and China (BASIC) group because Russia actually fell under the developed nation grouping. A BASIC inter-ministerial meeting was convened by Minister Molewa last month on 9 and 10 October where the positions of BASIC countries were outlined. This was a key foundation and support for SA in chairing G77. However there were big differences and positions amongst the group on a number of issues. SA made use of the platform on areas of coherence while areas of differences were worked around. BASIC was not a negotiating block but a simple coordination forum more than anything. 

Mr Makhubele wanted to know which other countries supported the multi-lateral approach adopted by SA. He asked if SA was ready for the responsibility and funding implications that came with chairing the G77. He suggested Members be provided with the clear positions taken by SA on various key issues so that they were informed when accompanying the Department to events.

Ms Beaumont responded that broadly the G77 – the developing country block was included. The matter was complex because the concept of equitable outcomes, contributions and responsibilities was at the heart of the position.  The EU, which was included in this multi-lateral outcome, was also pushing for a shift in binary division between developed and developing countries which showed that developing countries, such as China, made commitments as the biggest emitters. Finding the middle ground between the top-down and bottom-up approach was the challenge but Durban outlined a multi-lateral framework with multi-lateral rules and basis for reporting with finance support from developed to developing countries while making space for bottom-up domestic pledges. Finance was at the heart of the matter as it built trust. A number of multi-lateral finance commitments had been agreed to. Financing SA as the G77 was a national responsibility for the Department of International Relations and Cooperation. SA chairing the G77 placed a bigger role on the country and the delegation for this needed to be geared up. Each year, a set of key messages was compiled to guide the entire delegation on SA’s positions in negotiations.

Ms Ngcaba added that SA had a strategic position in chairing the G77 to strengthen the regional position for more alignment and to carry through the Durban outcome to influence Paris. The associated costs to what could be achieved through this role were minimal.

Ms Stander noted the two approaches to the negotiation. The approaches were top-down vs. bottom-up but she was glad there was a move toward the third option of minimum standards implemented for all countries based on scientific evidence and pledges for those who could do more to do so. She knew SA, as a developing country, was commended for its efforts and progress made in achieving targets. She was however concerned about the frustration by developing countries that developed countries could get away with murder, especially China. While SA was taking a considered and concerted approach to mitigate climate change, China said to hell with it because its people and economy was more important. What was SA’s take on other countries flouting global efforts to reduce global emissions and reduce the temperature? 

Ms Beaumont replied that the work that China was doing should not be under-estimated – while the country faced similar challenges to SA in terms of being a developing economy with a coal-based energy source, China was putting in work to bring down emissions. A global agreement was required with multi-lateral rules to guide contributions through a multi-lateral legal agreement.

Ms Ngcaba added the challenge was of developing countries growing on the back of carbon-intensive energy. The problem of climate change and rising temperatures was more of a cumulative problem based on years of emission and this was based on science. China could not be pinpointed diplomatically but China was part of G77 and could be influenced in this grouping.  There were some areas of disagreement between China and SA but there were also areas of agreement.

The Chairperson asked to what extent developed countries were taking the message seriously to put selfish interests aside and reach sufficient consensus. To what extent had leaders committed themselves to finding a meaningful, unified agreement under COP21 in Paris in 2015? How had these leaders committed themselves – was this a verbal or written commitment? What was SA’s position and rationale on the different commitment periods? He agreed SA chairing the G77 was a key leveraging position.

Ms Beaumont indicated the importance of science and the inter-governmental working panel where recently a summary on the science was provided for policy-makers. This was the Fifth Assessment Report which was backed by 5000 pages on the science. Increasingly, the science demonstrated with certainty, that climate change was caused by anthropological/human causes and emission of GHGs and the kinds of impacts which could be seen on the African continent in relation to food, human settlements and water security. This was where science met policy, planning and implementation at a global and national level. This Report would positively impact the negotiations and would be used by the African group to strongly demonstrate the impacts on adaptation and the finance implications in the short, medium and long-term to build resilience and adapt to the impact of climate change.

Ms Ngcaba added there was currently no written commitment but a meeting was convened by the UN Secretary-General at the margins of the heads of state governing council in September. Here, a commitment was made to finalise a meaningful universal agreement under the UNFCCC by Paris. Countries were encouraged to submit their pledges or at least indicate its nationally determined contributions before Paris. There were no written commitments/pledges but it was trusted that countries were committed in sprit at conventions.

Ms Beaumont discussed timelines noting SA had five-year commitments periods with the first beginning on 1 January 2016 – 2020; 2021 – 2025; 2025 – 2030; 2030 – 2035. SA’s plateau period was from 2030 – 2035 and the broad approach was for a robust global system with an outcome preferably for 2030 because this would provide the advantage of a longer time period without re-negotiating but there was room for flexibility in this regard.

Because of the lack of time, the Chairperson asked that any Member who had more questions to submit them in writing for the Department to respond to in writing.

Mitigation Potential and Emission Reduction
Ms Beaumont provided an overview to the briefing which would cover the mitigation potential analysis, additional mitigation work, Desired Emission Reduction Outcomes (DEROs) and carbon budgets.  

SA’s GHG mitigation potential analysis objectives included to project national GHG emissions into the future, identify and analyse mitigation opportunities and present marginal abatement cost curves (MACCs), showing costs and the greatest technical potential for emissions reduction from different technologies, assess the socio-economic and environmental impacts of the identified mitigation options and multi criteria analysis, develop emission reduction pathways, setting of reduction trajectories over time, which was technologically achievable and a pathway which identified what was technically possible without providing a detailed description of how that outcome would be achieved. The subsectors in terms of this mitigation potential analysis included energy, industry, transport, waste and Agriculture, Forestry and Land Use (AFLU).  

There were various areas for mitigation potential including commercial buildings. The identified mitigation potential for commercial buildings was estimated at 7.5 million tCO2e by 2020. Several negative marginal abatement cost mitigation options were available to reduce emissions from commercial buildings. Construction of passive buildings with improved thermal design offered the largest single mitigation potential with the lowest marginal abatement cost. With road transport, the uptake of CNG vehicles showed a negative marginal abatement cost in all years which was an attractive measure. It should be noted that the large-scale uptake of CNG vehicles required the necessary supporting infrastructure, along with the necessary supplies of gas. Nationally, the MACC illustrated that 37.8% of the total mitigation estimate for 2020 (39.7 MtCO2e) can be achieved through implementing mitigation measures with a negative marginal abatement cost.

Ms Beaumont identified additional mitigation work, for example, the mitigation technology plan to assess opportunities and barriers for the development and large-scale deployment of the key mitigation technologies with the Department of Science and Technology DST leading the initiative. The National Employment vulnerability assessment to assess the impact on jobs was being led by the Department of Economic Development. The Integrated Resource Plan process needed to be aligned with emission reduction planning.  This Mitigation Potential Analysis was based on IRP 2010. The IRP Update suggested lowered demand, delay in nuclear decision and the inclusion of shale gas. Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) was the only technology currently available that can deliver large scale carbon dioxide emission reduction associated with coal-based electricity generation.

Setting the Desired Emission Reduction Outcome (DERO) was an analysis of a mix of instruments (including carbon tax) to achieve emission reductions, including assessment of gaps. There was also the allocation of DERO’s per sector and sub-sector, and where necessary, company level Carbon Budgets as well as the submission of Mitigation Plans by companies. DEROs will be designed so annual emissions fall within the Peak, Plateau, Decline with Middle Trajectory (PPD) aiming for the midpoint of the PPD range.

The objectives of the DEROs were to develop and propose the allocation of long- (2050),  medium- (2030) and short- (2016-2020) term desired GHG emission reduction outcomes DEROs per sector, develop an appropriate mix of policy measures per sector (Mix of Measures) and allocation of carbon budgets to companies. For the alignment of systems, alignment will be designed around c-budgets, with the carbon tax ideally applying to emissions above the threshold and this would mean the alignment was consistent with the PPD. DEA and the Department of Energy were finalising energy and climate change reporting systems.  

Ms Stander wanted to find out about the marginal abatement cost curve and if the cost was related to loss in revenue or cost in terms of putting in infrastructure or both. She wanted examples of how government departments had looked at the abatement cost curve and which strategies were chosen for implementation. What percentage of economic growth was the mitigated estimate calculated on? She was very interested to see what the projected economic growth would be as there might be different forecasts.

Ms Beaumont explained the Department was advised by Treasury to take an average growth rate of 4.2% but a sensitivity analysis was also conducted where the upper went as high as 6% growth and the lower at 2% growth. She could provide the graphs of the different scenarios to the Member. DEA, and the Department of Public Works and Energy were working together through an MOU to bring efficiency to public buildings. Major request for funding was made to the German Department of Environment which had indicated positively it would be providing additional support. In addition, the White Paper on Climate Change made provision for a set of national flagships, for example, on public works, transport, renewable energy and water to upscale the work already being done. Departments needed to work cross-sectorally, mobilize resources, technology and institutional and policy coordination. Each Department would be leading the initiatives in its flagship.  

Ms Ngcaba added the abatement cost was more around the cost of infrastructure. Where there was no cost, it would be a saving.  

Mr Makhubele asked if the Department made an input into the existing energy efficiency building regulations. What was the commencement period for industry to begin submitting mitigation plans? What was the state of readiness in terms of implementing the carbon tax policy?

Ms Beaumont indicated industry would have to submit plans before January 2016. Engagement with industry on the setting of the carbon budget was ongoing. The carbon tax was a key instrument and if it did not go through, would undermine the ability of industry to reduce emissions. There also did not have to be complete reliance on the carbon tax. 

The Chairperson asked about the extent of the Department cooperating and assisting the Department of Transport on the migration of freight from road to rail.

Ms Ngcaba said there was a cost to suing road infrastructure which was not just about carbon emissions but maintenance.

Mr Holomisa was concerned that some motor cars did not have catalytic converters which contributed to cleaner air – what pressure was government putting on local manufacturers in this regard?

Ms Ngcaba thought it would be good for the Committee to have a joint sitting with other key Committees like transport, energy, trade and industry and economic development. The Department made inputs but enforcement was actually carried out by these other departments. The Department of Trade and Industry had issued regulations on the manufacturing of green cars but there was also a balance when it came to completing banning other cars. DEA was a policy facilitating change Department while other Departments were enforcing so a joint sitting would assist a great deal.

Green Fund Programme Progress
Ms Beaumont rapidly took the Committee through the presentation due to a lack of time noting there was a total of 45 projects worth approximately R722, 5 million so far. Thematic windows included Green Cities, Low carbon and Environment and Natural resource management.12712 jobs will be created through the implementation. A breakdown of investments projects were provided per province.

Mr Hadebe asked why some projects in provinces were withdrawn and cancelled.

Ms Ngcaba explained there were conditions attached and standards for the applicants to meet. If this did not happen, the project could be withdrawn or canceled.

Mr Mkhubele asked why only the Eastern Cape and Gauteng featured in the Green Fund capacity building initiatives. 

Ms Ngcaba indicated the fund was headed by the Development Bank of SA (DBSA) and there were invitations for projects so the provinces not represented did not make the cut. The Department had asked the DBSA for updates on future projects in the provinces. Most of the initiatives were coming from cities which explained why the larger provinces were presented and reflected the kind of proposals the DBSA wanted.

Mr Holomisa commended the Department for having started this Fund. He insisted taxes accrued were ring fenced in order to address challenges and the statistics used to boost the position of SA at Lima.

Ms Stander questioned the actual vs. projected jobs created. She noticed some provinces had already spent their budget but had barely created half the projected jobs. Would the projected job creation align with the figures presented? Some provinces had created many jobs while spending minimal budgets while other provinces had the opposite occurrence.

Ms Ngcaba was not sure of the job numbers so she would have to verify the information first.

The Chairperson found this acceptable.  

Mr Hadebe asked the Department also provide on how money was spent on projects which were withdrawn or cancelled.

Ms Ngcaba added the full amount was for a number of projects but she would provide the Member will full amounts.  

Visitation of the Chairperson
The Chairperson proposed that Members who were interested to go could go this coming Friday as it was the only time available. Members were to liaise with the Ms Madubela as it would not be coming out of the Committee’s budget.

The meeting was adjourned.

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