Proposed carbon tax for South Africa, Open panel discussion and debate

You are cordially invited to attend an open panel discussion and debate hosted by:

in association with the:

“The proposed carbon tax for South Africa, and its impact on the economy”

DATE: Thursday 3 November 2011

TIME: 15h30 for 16h00

VENUE: Bytes Convention Centre, Midrand. (Click here for map)

COCKTAIL PARTY: A cocktail party will be served after the event.

COST: Except for bona fide working journalists, editors and camera crew covering the debate, there is an entrance fee of R50 per person, payable at the door, to help cover catering costs.

The names of the chairperson and eminent expert presenters will be announced shortly. After the formal presentations, the chairperson will field open discussion from the floor and between presenters.


South Africa is significant carbon emitter on the African continent, with estimated total emissions standing at about 500-million tonnes of CO2e (carbon dioxide equivalent) a year.

The biggest emitter of CO2e in South Africa is Eskom, whose publicly reported CO2e emissions for the year ending March 2010 was 225-million tonnes, or 45% of the total. Other major culprits are Sasol and ArcelorMittal SA.

On 13 December 2010, the National Treasury issued a carbon tax discussion paper for public comment entitled: “Reducing greenhouse gas emissions: the carbon tax option”. (Click here to download)

The paper follows the announcement by the SA government at the 2009 Copenhagen conference of its intentions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 34% by 2020 and 42% by 2025 below the “business-as- usual” scenario.

The Treasury document discusses the economics of climate change, the role of carbon taxes in reducing emissions at least cost, and compares regulatory and market-based policy measures, as well as carbon taxes and emissions trading schemes.

The paper and proposed carbon tax seek to complement regulatory efforts by the SA government in addressing environmental challenges, and suggests the use of market-based policy measures, such as an escalating carbon tax, to reflect the cost of climate change in the price of goods and services.

The paper suggests that a tax of R75/tonne of CO2e, with an increase to around R200/tonne of CO2e, would be appropriate.

An initial carbon tax rate of R165/tonne of CO2e, as assumed in the government approved IRP 2010 – 2030 electricity plan, would net government some R82,5-billion a year, while Eskom would be required to pay about R37-billion a year in carbon tax, Sasol about R9,9-billion a year, and ArcelorMittal SA about R1,7-billion a year.

It is further estimated that a carbon tax of R165/tonne of CO2e would add some 14 c/kWh to the current price of electricity, this being in addition to the existing 2 c/kWh electricity generation levy on electricity generated by Eskom’s fossil fueled power stations, all of which costs are simply passed through to the customer in the electricity tariffs.


Some of the questions the panel discussion and debate will cover include:  

·         Is there a rational rationale for a carbon tax?

·         What is international experience in implementing a carbon tax?

·         What are the potential positive, negative and unintended effects of carbon taxation?

·         What will be the impact of the proposed carbon tax on the price of electricity and the economy?

·         Should the proceeds of a carbon tax be ring-fenced to fund low carbon, renewable, hydro and nuclear energy generation options, and/or the establishment a sustainable renewable energy sector in SA?

·         Or should the proceeds of a carbon tax simply go into the general fiscus to fund broader government spending priorities detailed in the national budget?

·         In a regulated environment dictated by the 20-year national Integrated Resource Plan for electricity, IRP 2010 – 2030, is a carbon tax really necessary to achieve a change to renewable energy?

·         Should a carbon tax be applied on measured CO2 emissions; or an upstream tax applied on the carbon content of fossil fuel inputs such as coal or crude oil; or a downstream tax applied on output of products generated from fossil fuels such as electricity or liquid fuels?

·         If a carbon tax is applied, how should it be phased in?

·         What other policy instruments are available to address climate change?

·         What are the benefits or drawbacks of market-based instruments vs. command and control measures?

·         Is the proposed carbon tax just another tax on products with relatively low price/demand elasticity to raise money for general government spending?

·         Will the proposed carbon tax be effective and efficient instrument to meet carbon emission goals?


Seating is limited and booking is essential. Please register early to book your seat(s) and avoid disappointment.


From the N1 highway between Johannesburg and Pretoria, take the New Road off-ramp and head west, then take the first left turning at the Shell Garage into Sixth Road, then first left again into Invicta Road, then right into Third Road. Bytes Business Park is on the left hand side. There is ample secure parking.

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