Aligning South African Energy and Climate Change Mitigation Policy

"This paper considers the alignment of energy policy in South Africa with the Cabinet’s mitigation vision of a ‘peak, plateau and decline’ greenhouse gas emissions trajectory to 2050. First, the term ‘policy’ is defined as having a number of components, ranging from the broad ‘policy paradigm’ which guides the approach to policy development in a particular area, to statements and intentions, written documents and institutional orientation and capacity. Following from this definition it is argued that, at the level of written and stated energy policy, the intention exists to move towards a more diverse, efficient and less carbon-intensive energy sector. A number of policy instruments are being developed which go some way towards achieving this. However, the targets set are too low, and all initiatives are hampered for institutional and financing reasons. On the other hand, however, the dominant energy policy paradigm and the orientation and capacity of the country’s energy institutions are fundamentally misaligned with climate mitigation policy. In particular, conflicts between these institutions constrain policy co-ordination and hence alignment. The primary causes of misalignment are argued to be, firstly, existing and entrenched institutional orientation and capacity and, secondly, the lack of a single, overarching, co-ordinating energy policy institution which has sufficient power and influence to deal with the vested interests of the existing energy institutions. The paper then explores, by means of thought experiments in the areas of renewable energy and energy efficiency, what would be required to align energy policy with Cabinet’s mitigation vision."