#Climate Change#: GHG Emissions in South Africa

According to the UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change), the latest data available for South African emissions of GHG (Greenhouse Gases) refers to the year 2000. The total emissions were estimated to be 461 million tones CO₂e. Following the IPCC (International Panel on Climate Change) 2006 methodology for GHG inventories, the most significant sector contributing to South African emissions is the energetic one, which accounts for 83% of the total. This value excludes emissions and accumulation of GHG due to land use, land use change and forestry. The net impact of these emissions is a reduction of about 18 million tones CO₂e, meaning that more GHG were sunk by forests and crop lands than emitted by those activities. In the graphs above we can see the summary of the information provided.

Figure 1: Total greenhouse gas emissions by sector in South Africa, without land use, land use change, and forestry


Figure 2: Total greenhouse gas emissions by sector in South Africa, including land use, land use change, and forestry

Source: South Africa’s Second National Communication under the UNFCCC – november/2011

The relevant contribution of the energy sector to the total emissions stems from the intensive carbon energy matrix, particularly coal, which is easily founded within the country. This mineral provides more than 70% of primary energy and more than 85% of the electricity in South Africa. Among many measures that local government is trying to promote, the use of renewable sources of energy is the one that stands out regarding potential to reduce GHG emissions.

Finally, it’s important to highlight that as most of developing countries, particularly the so called BRICs, South Africa increased relevantly its emissions from 1990 to 2000. The total increase was of about 33%, impacted especially by emissions from the energy sector, which rose 46% during this period. Waste and agriculture sector reduced their emissions in 38% and 4%, respectively.


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