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South Africa's Climate Change Plan Includes Carbon Tax

Photo shows Adderley Street, Cape TownLast week South Africa's government unveiled an "ambitious" climate change plan that includes rigorous energy efficiency measures and a carbon tax on CO2 polluting industries.

"The world faces a global climate emergency. It is now clear that only action by both developed and developing countries can prevent the climate crisis from deepening," environment minister Martinus Van Schalkwyk said in a statement.

In 2003 South Africa emitted 446 million tonnes of greenhouse gases "and forecasts growth to a maximum of 550 million tonnes a year by 2025."

South Africa wants the greenhouse gas emissions to stop growing "at the latest by 2020 to 2025, stabilise for up to 10 years, and then decline in absolute terms." Van Schalkwyk said that "the aim is to limit global temperature increases to two degrees above pre-industrial levels."

Both environment groups and business associations has welcomed the climate change plan saying it’s a major step "towards galvanising rich industrialised nations into addressing climate change." Andre Fourie, chief executive of National Business Initiative, a group advocating sustainable development, said that "the cost of inaction far outweighs the cost of mitigating the effects of climate change."

Professor Harald Winkler, from the University of Cape Town climate change department, was also happy about the new proposed climate change plan, especially the carbon tax:

"Our analysis shows that putting a price on carbon has the single largest impact on emissions. By using the price signal, it sends signals to all actors in the economy, and can shift behaviour."

The proposed climate change plan has already been endorsed by the cabinet in South Africa and finance officials are already "investigating ways of implementing the [carbon] tax." But the plan must be approved by the parliament before it gets the final green light.

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