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South African industry remains a blockage to ambitious climate change policy in the country. This report analyses the corporate climate policy positions of sixteen companies and twelve industry associations in South Africa, and examines the policy impact of climate policy engagement by South African industry.
While some South African companies and industry associations have supported climate policy that advances the transition towards renewables, many major South African industry players continue to oppose important climate policy in the country. The South African Carbon Tax and the Climate Change Bill have seen continued opposition, contrary to IPCC guidance on the role of climate policy in limiting global warming to 1.5°C.
Deep dive analysis finds that South African companies and industry associations are putting the country's climate goals at risk through their policy engagement activities. The research covers major companies and industry associations in South Africa, including Eskom, Sasol, Minerals Council South Africa (MCSA), and Business Unity South Africa (BUSA). The report involved the analysis of climate policy engagement evidence for each company and association spanning from 2019-2023.
The report finds that there is a clear imbalance in industry engagement with flagship South African policies including the Carbon Tax Act and the Climate Change Bill, where oppositional voices advocate more than entities with more supportive positions. Mining sector companies including MCSA, Sibanye Stillwater, and Thungela Resources engaged the most negatively, and the sector also continues to support the continued role of coal as an energy source. In contrast, large South African businesses like Shoprite communicated more positively but do not appear to be strategically engaged.
The research also provides deep dives into the climate policy engagement of powerful actors such as Eskom and Sasol. Both Eskom and Sasol were found to have actively engaged on climate policy, including engaging negatively on the South African Carbon Tax.
Cross-sector associations including Business Leadership South Africa, BUSA, and the Industry Task Team on Climate Change communicate mixed positions on climate policy ambition, expressing support for renewable energy procurement legislation while advocating to weaken the South African Carbon Tax. These dynamics are having clear impacts on South African policy development, with the Carbon Tax being successfully delayed and weakened.
Despite this, nearly 75% of industry supported renewable energy and hydrogen development in South Africa, with pro-renewables advocacy led by the South African Wind Energy Association. This support has been reflected in climate policymaking with the government's decision to remove the cap on self-embedded generation, allowing for more private solar and wind power projects.
Overall transparent engagement on specific South African climate policies is low. This is due to South Africa lacking lobbying transparency regulations, which leaves non-public engagement pathways open to industry. As a result, there is potential for positive climate voices to emerge in South Africa's corporate sector, particularly companies that appear to have very limited engagement with specific climate policies.
Climate policy leadership amongst the corporate sector is critical for unblocking the country’s path to net zero. This includes concerted efforts by South Africa’s most powerful companies to audit and align their climate policy engagement activities with the advice of the IPCC.
Steps from government to improve transparency and governance of the climate policymaking process could also have systemic and positive impacts on the development of climate policy in the region. InfluenceMap’s global analysis has often found a strong correlation between a failure by governments to act on climate, and a powerful fossil fuel lobby alongside limited transparency around the policy process, resulting in ‘policy capture.’
Eskom's LobbyMap profile is available here. Sasol's LobbyMap profile is available here.
The report was edited on February 8th 2023 to clarify InfluenceMap’s analysis of Sasol’s position on the Climate Change Bill.