The Carbon Tax Act, which comes into effect on 1 June, will give effect to the polluter-pays principle, says a Cape Times report.

Climate change represents one of the biggest challenges facing humankind, and the primary objective of the carbon tax is to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in a sustainable, cost-effective and affordable manner. Government has outlined its strong commitment to play its part in global efforts to mitigate GHG emissions as outlined in the National Climate Change Response Policy of 2011 and the National Development Plan of 2012,’ Treasury said.

Firms will be incentivised to adopt cleaner technologies over the next decade and beyond, and the carbon tax will initially only apply to scope one emitters, from June to December 2022, with the second phase set for 2023 to 2030.

This will result in a relatively modest carbon tax rate ranging from R6 to R48 per ton of CO2 equivalent emitted ... to provide current significant emitters time to transition their operations to cleaner technologies through investments in energy efficiency, renewables, and other low-carbon measures,’ it said.

Environmental rights groups have welcomed the law but were sceptical about its implementation. According to the Cape Times report, 350Africa.org SA’s Glen Tyler-Davies said the law was far too soft on polluters to ensure real behaviour change.

The rate of R120 a ton of carbon dioxide equivalent is low, and there are significant tax-free emission allowances that will mean even less incentive to change.’

Southern African Faith Communities Environment Institute’s Francesca de Gasparis said the government was known to make pleasing statements but needed to follow through and make effective and fair implementations that did not penalise everyday South Africans.

Full Cape Times report

Carbon Tax Act, 2019