On 24 October 2023, South Africa’s National Assembly voted to pass the Climate Change Bill, the ambitious legislation introduced by South Africa’s Minister of Forestry, Fisheries, and the Environment in February 2022. The adopted version of the Bill will now go to the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) for consideration.
Recognising that human-induced climate change represents an urgent threat to human societies and the planet, the Bill seeks to enable an effective climate change response and to ensure a just transition to a low-carbon and climate-resilient society.
The National Assembly vote followed extensive public consultations and hearings held by the National Assembly’s Portfolio Committee on Forestry, Fisheries, and the Environment. The Portfolio Committee introduced a number of amendments to the Bill, including:
- The addition of specific offences, such as the failure to submit information or providing falsified data in terms of the Bill’s reporting requirements, which carry a fine or imprisonment upon conviction.
- Adoption of a finance mechanism to support South Africa’s climate change response, in consultation with the Minister of Finance. Any regulations made in terms of this mechanism must be tabled in Parliament 30 days before they are published in the Government Gazette.
- The inclusion of key concepts in the definitions section, such as ‘national greenhouse gas emissions profile’ and ‘resilience’, which improve the Bill’s coherence.
- Additional sections to regulate the powers and functions of the Presidential Climate Commission (PCC), including provision for the appointment of an Executive Director, clarity on the PCC’s financial administration, and provision for the PCC’s reports to be made public through its website.
In terms of the national legislative process, Parliament has tagged this Bill as an ordinary Bill affecting the provinces. In terms of section 76 of the Constitution, the NCOP is required to pass the Bill as received, pass an amended Bill, or reject the Bill. If the NCOP passes the Bill without amendment, the Bill then goes to the President for assent; alternatively, if the NCOP passes an amended Bill, the amended Bill will be referred back to the National Assembly for further consideration. If the National Assembly passes the amended Bill, it will then go to the President for assent.
This advisory note was prepared by ALT Advisory’s new Climate Justice & Sustainability Practice (CJS). With an emphasis on implementation, monitoring, and impact reporting, CJS aims to build climate-resilience through digital transformation and climate and environmental justice. Find out more here.
Please note: The information contained in this note is for general guidance on matters of interest, and does not constitute legal advice. For any enquiries, please contact us at [email protected]