MMATLOU KALABA AND HEINRICH BOHLMANN
Carbon tax is likely to be an effective way of mitigating greenhouse gas emissions, which lead to climate change and have negative consequences for human life. But the carbon tax that’s been introduced in South Africa could cost jobs, unless people acquire skills that can be used in sectors that are not carbon-intensive. However, overall, the tax should benefit South Africans. Greenhouse gas emissions have resulted in increased global temperatures and, in turn, unpredictable weather patterns. These changes – referred to as climate change – have led to devastating outcomes such as severe drought, heatwaves and flooding .
Climate change also affects agriculture, water resources, human health, infrastructure, ecosystems and energy. As one of the first measures to combat climate change, SA recently introduced a carbon tax. It’s the only African country and one of only 57 globally to have done so. The carbon tax is a tax on energy as most of South Africa’s carbon emissions are from energy generation and the industrial use of energy. As much as 80% of SA’s primary energy is powered by coal. But the tax could lead to a welfare loss by reducing disposable incomes of consumers by about R100 billion over 20 years. Workers in carbon-intensive sectors are at particular risk of losing their jobs. Sectors that are closely tied to fossil fuel- based energy will be worst affected. They include transport, iron and steel, and coal-generated electricity. But the carbon tax will be good for jobs and production in the agriculture and food sectors, due to some tax exemptions. Understanding the effects of carbon tax is important for the environment and also for the economy. Growth has been sluggish for the past decade and unemployment has risen from 21% to more than 27%. The carbon tax provides an opportunity to create more jobs as energy sources shift from fossil fuels to renewables.
WHAT NEEDS TO BE DONE
Some important steps need to be taken in addition to the tax coming into force. The money should be used to build clean energy generation, otherwise the policy benefits will be limited and might not reduce emissions. Recycling the revenue is a necessary condition for this carbon tax to have long-term economic benefits. The food and agricultural sector must ensure it will have alternative energy sources in future. Most of SAs energy supply is concentrated Eskom. Movement towards renewable and cleaner energy will provide an opportunity for more players. The transport sector is also a large contributor to greenhouse gas emissions due to its reliance on fossil fuels. Vehicles numbers must be cut. – The Conversation.