The Future of Greenhouse Gas or Carbon Emission Reduction
The question, however, is whether South Africa will pick up on it.
Currently, the country is debating whether to put a “carbon tax" into place, as well as proposals to adapt taxes on energy generated from non-renewable resources. This would encourage businesses to adapt measures that are low-cost compared to the tax. This has been countered by industry requests to lower their income tax, so that they do not become unprofitable. Subsidies for energy-efficient technologies, and removal of tariffs from imported green technologies, are also being considered.
The primary issue with creating real reductions in carbon emissions is not so much what the government proposes—the Cabinet has made all sorts of calls to “decarbonize" South Africa. It's a matter of the attitude amongst the people with regards to energy usage. Gas-guzzling SUVs are regarded as a power symbol—much the same way they are in the rest of the world.
One of the most difficult problems to overcome is South Africa's complete dependence on cheap coal-based power. South Africa has one of the lowest electricity rates in the world, which citizens have been abusing to the extent of being labeled as also one of the most energy inefficient countries in the world. African countries in general are known for their sunny and windy conditions, presenting a huge potential for development of renewable energy sources. There have also been innovative attempts to harness methane created by landfills5, which although not emission-free, is still a step in the right direction.
If a lot of this sounds familiar, it should. If nothing else, global conferences such as Copenhagen has brought about awareness that all countries face the same difficulties in attempting to reduce their carbon emissions.