SA’s greenhouse gas emissions increased 10% in the 17 years since 2000, according to the latest Greenhouse Gas Inventory Report, which was published by the department of environment, forestry and fisheries last week.
The latest report was published as part of South Africa’s commitment in terms of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which required countries to not only address climate change, but also to monitor trends in anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions.
“The decrease in the net Forestry and Other Land Use (AFOLU) sector is due to an increasing Land sink. There was an annual average increase of 2.0% between 2000 and 2009, and then emissions stabilised and declined with an average annual decline of 1.0%,” the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment said on Tuesday.
One of the principal commitments includes developing, publishing and regularly updating national emission inventories of greenhouse gases.
Parties to the UNFCCC are also obligated to protect and enhance carbon sinks and reservoirs, such as forests, and implement measures that assist in national and regional climate change adaptation and mitigation.
The Department said the information gleaned from the Inventory Report supports policy development and decision-making related to a viable climate change mitigation response as South Africa transitions to a low carbon and climate resilient society as outlined in the National Development Plan’s Vision 2030 and the National Climate Change Response Policy.
“The Inventory is also vital in supporting implementation of South Africa’s Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC), to be tabled ahead of the international climate talks in November.
“It is also important in terms of supporting national imperatives, such as the implementation of the carbon tax, determining carbon budgets and other climate mitigation instruments so we can achieve the country’s developmental and sustainable development goals,” the Minister said.
The latest Report covers sources of greenhouse gas emissions, and removals by sinks, resulting from human or anthropogenic activities for the major greenhouse gases: carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), perfluorocarbons (PFCs), and hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs).
Indirect greenhouse gases – carbon monoxide (CO), and oxides of nitrogen (NOx) – are also included for biomass burning.
The gases are reported under four sectors: Energy, Industrial Processes and Product Use (IPPU), Agriculture, Forestry and Other Land Use (AFOLU) and Waste.
“Sulphur hexafluoride (SF6) emissions have not yet been included due to a lack of data. However, the Department is in discussions with Eskom to obtain historical SF6 data so that it can be included in the next inventory. Furthermore, a threshold has been set for SF6 in the new GHG reporting regulation so that companies will start reporting data,” the Department said.
The National Inventory Report, compiled in accordance with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), will be submitted to the UNFCCC to fulfil South Africa’s reporting obligations.
This is done through National Communications (NCs) every four years and the Biennial Update Reports (BURs) every two years.