South Africa Takes Bold Step: Climate Change Bill Receives Parliamentary Nod of Approval
17 May, 2024

Sinalo Matubatuba, Candidate Attorney and Garyn Rapson, Partner at Webber Wentzel




The South African Parliament unanimously passed the Climate Change Bill, which sets ambitious goals to achieve the country’s low-carbon and climate-resilient future.



In a move towards fulfilling its international commitments and combating climate change head-on, South Africa has officially passed the Climate Change Bill. Both arms of Parliament – the National Assembly and the National Council of Provinces, unanimously approved this critical legislation on 25 April 2024, sending it to the President’s desk for final signature, before it can be Gazetted into law.



The Bill, which includes essential mitigation and adaptation measures that fairly support the global struggle against climate change, represents a major step forward for South Africa in putting into practice a strong national climate change response. Strong governance and leadership are essential for this historic legislation to be successfully implemented.



This Bill heralds a new era of accountability and engagement in the fight against climate change for business. Under its provisions, the Minister of Forestry, Fisheries, and the Environment may request essential data, information, or documents from businesses to facilitate the National Climate Change Response White Paper – a pivotal tool in our climate battle. As mandated by the Bill, the Minister must allocate carbon budgets, to businesses that engage in listed climate-impacting activities (a draft report on sector emission targets was published), necessitating the development and submission of greenhouse gas mitigation plans.



The public sector will play a pivotal role in ensuring the Bill’s effectiveness post-enactment. The Bill formalises the Presidential Climate Commission which has been operating informally for some time now. Tasked with monitoring and evaluating progress towards emission reduction and adaptation goals, this commission underscores South Africa’s commitment to climate action at the highest level.



The Bill champions cooperative governance by entrusting responsibilities not only to the Minister but also to provincial and municipal authorities through their respective MECs and mayors. Time will tell whether these various levels of Government will have the necessary resources and political will to achieve the objectives of the Bill.



As South Africa readies itself for this transformative legislation to be signed into law, the focus now shifts to proactive measures. The Bill assesses the nation’s climate vulnerability across sectors and regions and lays forth a thorough national and sector adaptation strategy and plan. This plan, which is subject to revision every five years, emphasises how dynamic our response to climate change is.



The signing of this Bill into law will mark a turning point – a testament to South Africa’s unwavering commitment to combatting climate change and safeguarding our planet for generations to come.







@Sinalo Matubatuba
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@Garyn Rapson
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