Carbon Tax puzzle of law almost complete

After the National Greenhouse Gas Emission (GHG) Reporting Regulations were published on 3 April 2017, the next tranche of laws have now come into force to complement the proposed carbon tax. This is in line with South Africa's international commitments to cut down GHG emissions in South Africa by 34% by 2020; and by 42% by 2025. On 21 July 2017, the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) published the National Pollution Prevention Plan Regulations (NPPP Regulations), as well as the Declaration of Greenhouse Gases as Priority Air Pollutants (Declaration), under the National Environmental Management: Air Quality Act (NEMAQA).

The Declaration lists the following greenhouse gases as priority air pollutants:

  • carbon dioxide;
  • methane;
  • nitrous oxide;
  • hydrofluorocarbons;
  • perfluorocarbons; and
  • sulphur hexafluoride.

The Declaration also lists various production processes, which include, inter alia, coal mining, cement production and electricity production. Any person that is carrying out one of these processes, which results in the emission of more than 0.1 Megatonne of GHG annually, is required to submit a pollution prevention plan (the Plan) to the minister of environmental affairs (Minister) for approval.

The NPPP Regulations set out the requirements that need to be complied with to prepare such Plans. These Plans are required to contain details of the GHG generated, the total GHG emissions for the previous calendar year, as well as mitigation measures that will be implemented to reduce GHG emissions. A person must also submit a progress report to the Minister by 31 March each year for the previous year. The progress report must include details on the mitigation measures that were implemented, any deviations from the Plan and remedial actions taken.

The NPPP Regulations and the Declaration, which came into force with immediate effect on 21 July 2017, are yet another step geared towards preparing industry for the imminent implementation of the Carbon Tax - watch this space.

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