Political anatomy of South Africa's climate change policy
Olutola, Oluwole ldowu
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The focus in this study was on South Africa's interaction with climate change on the global scene and, in particular, its response in terms of policy and other regulatory frameworks aimed at addressing the challenge of climate change at the domestic level. This was done in order to unearth the political interplay involved in South Africa 's approach towards climate change in view of its delicate position as both a contributor to climate change and one of the hard-hit by its adverse impacts. The researcher relied on systematic exposition and adaptation of key underpinnings of "complex interdependence" and "second image reversed" as a theoretical basis for discussion. On the other hand, the researcher used responses captured through in-depth interviews with purposively selected respondents and a range of secondary data. While the Nvivo software was used in the study to generate relevant themes and sub-themes, qualitative content analysis (QCA) was used to interpret the data collected using the themes and sub-themes as units of analysis. In addition to examining the environmental right as enshrined in the 1996 Constitution, two principal policy instruments for addressing climate change in South Africa, namely the National Environmental Management Act (NEMA, 1998) and the National Climate Change Response (NCCR, 2011) were reviewed in the study. In particular, the Business-As-Usual/Peak-Plateau-Decline (BAU/PPD) ermss10n reduction trajectory and South Africa 's Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC) were also examined. This examination was done against the background of a historical analysis of the trajectory of the global environmental and climate change regimes and discussion on different aspects of South Africa's involvement in the global climate change process. It was revealed that South Africa 's approach to climate change is characterised by a political interplay. At the global level, South Africa has been actively involved in the global climate change process, pru1icularly within the UNFCCC frameworks, while at the domestic level there are puzzling challenges regarding its policy response to climate change. Much of these reflect in the failure of the country's political leadership to muster strong will needed to bring about an end to the use of coal as a major energy source and foreign income earner; neutralise basic fossil fuel interest which seeks to ensure that coal remains a growth catalyst in South Africa; prioritise climate change as an impo11ant issue of national concern rather than an environmental IV byproduct and, therefore, a side-issue which should not be taken seriously; mainstream climate change considerations and planning into all relevant sectors and national departments; pursue a more ambitious transition to a low carbon and climate resilient South Africa; and incentivise mitigation and adaptive behaviour in majority of South Africans as part of the overall efforts towards achieving a low-carbon transition. It is concluded that the challenges are doable given greater commitment and deliberate actions on the part of the South African government, including support from the international community, mostly in terms of capacity building and technology transfer. In this regard, this study recommended amongst others that South Africa 's low-carbon transition needs to go through a fresh consultation phase to allow for public comments and strong national position on climate change.
- Humanities