South Africa moves closer to national GHG reporting system
22 October 2015

South Africa moves closer to national GHG reporting system

Urban Earth, 6 October, 2015.

South Africa’s Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) recently closed submissions for comments on the Draft Regulations for Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Reporting for the country. The Draft Regulations in terms of the National Environmental Management: Air Quality Act, 2004 (Act No. 39 of 2004) were published in June 2015.

When finalised the regulations will move the country one step closer to having a formalised national GHG reporting system, required by its international obligations to the UNFCCC, but also by its own climate change ambitions and targets, says Jongikhaya Witi of the Climate Change: Monitoring and Evaluation Unity at the DEA.

In addition, the system will ensure that the country prepares and manages data collection and analysis, as well as all relevant information related to climate change in a consistent, transparent and accurate manner for both internal and external reporting.

The development of a national GHG system responds to policy set out by the National Climate Change Response Paper (NCCRP), says Witi. “If you look at the NCCRP, there is very specific text around what must be done around the national GHG inventory. In terms of domestic needs, a GHG inventory has to be conducted every year. In terms of UNFCCC obligations, this needs to be done every two years”, he added.

Large emitters required to report

According to the draft regulations, industries and organisations that engage in the following activities, which result in direct emissions of GHGs must report to a competent authority:

  • Energy – all fuel/petroleum and electricity-related activities, manufacturing and construction sectors, the fugitive emission from fuels, spontaneous combustion and burning coal dumps, oil and natural gas and any other emissions from energy production
  • Industrial processes and production use – mineral and chemical production, the metal industry, non-energy products from fuels and solvents use, electronics industry, product uses as substitutes of ozone depleting substances and refrigeration and air conditioning
  • Agriculture, forestry and other land use
  • Waste sector – solid waste disposal, biological treatment of solid waste, incineration and open burning of waste and waste water treatment and discharge
  • Transport – civil aviation, cars, railways, water-borne navigation and other transport means including pipelines and off-road.

Eskom would be an example of a data provider, as would other energy generation organisations involved in oil and gas production. Large industries that emit directly into the atmosphere would also be required to report their emissions e.g. those responsible for primary steel, chemical, cement production. Municipalities, who own large landfill waste sites and sometimes generate their own electricity, would also be required to report directly to the DEA.

For energy production that result in combustion emissions, reporting will be mandatory for individual installations with a 10 MW energy capacity, or more. In addition, there will be a product-based threshold for process emissions and operation-specific threshold for fugitive and waste emissions, noted Witi.

Formalisation of existing ‘voluntary’ reporting

At present, the country’s GHG inventory is dependent on a voluntary reporting system by large, direct emitters, or data providers.  The new regulations, when promulgated, will force direct emitters to report their emissions each year to a ‘competent authority’, or the National Inventory Unit (NIU), which sits in the DEA. Because of the voluntary system of reporting which has been running for a number of years, Witi believes that these ‘data providers’ have enough experience to report their emissions each year.

The regulations define clear penalties for those who fail to report, including imposing hefty fines of offenders. The DEA aims to work closely with other departments, ministries and industries with existing data sets and other information such as licenses to verify the level of reporting taking place to match up with the level of emissions that have been reported.

In ensuring that data providers are reporting, an example of cross-departmental collaboration and verification would be with the Department of Labour which has access to information for all businesses that have a license to operate a vessel under pressure, under the Occupational Health and Safety Act of 1993, which would include boilers, generally a sign that emissions are occurring on site. Cross-checking with the Air Quality Unit for businesses that have a license to emit would be another example of making use of systems and regulations that already exist.

South Africa GHG inventory for 2010

The regulations come off the back of DEA’s finalisation of the country’s GHG inventory for the period 2000-2010 earlier in the year, which was an update of the 2009 GHG inventory which only included emissions for 2000. The figures for 2010 show that the country had emitted 518 million tCO2e – which includes emissions adjusted for land use changes.

The national GHG Inventory for South Africa 2000-2010 documents South Africa’s GHG emission trends for that period and is in line with the most recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) technical guidelines for compilation of national greenhouse gas inventories.

The DEA is currently synthesising responses to the Draft GHG Regulations and aims to prepare final regulations by the end of the year, which they hope to have promulgated by 2016.

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