Business Unity South Africa (BUSA)

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Johannesburg, South Africa
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Climate Lobbying Overview: Business Unity South Africa (BUSA) appears to have mixed engagement with climate policy. BUSA’s top-line communications appear broadly supportive, although it has qualified its support for ambitious climate action with concerns related to technological and economic viability. BUSA has also supported renewable energy legislation and GHG targets in South Africa in 2020-22. However, BUSA also continues to support a sustained role for fossil gas in the energy mix contrary to IPCC guidance, and has also historically lobbied to weaken or oppose key climate policies in South Africa.

Top-line Messaging on Climate Policy: BUSA’s top-line communications on climate change appear to be broadly positive. In August 2021, BUSA’s Energy and Environment Policy Manager, Jarredine Morris, recognized the science of the IPCC and the need to reduce GHG emissions as quickly as possible. In an August 2021 press release, BUSA appeared to support emissions reductions in line with net-zero by 2050. In the same press release, BUSA also advocated for a more ambitious Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) for South Africa under the Paris Agreement. Support for the Paris Agreement was reiterated in a February 2022 press release.

However, BUSA CEO, Cas Coovadia, has qualified this support for ambitious climate action. In a May 2021 speech, Coovadia acknowledged the global pressure to limit global warming to 1.5°C and supported the implementation of climate policy in South Africa. However, he also warned of framing the discussion “only around net-zero and the science” without considering national circumstances and cost constraints. In this speech, Coovadia appeared to emphasize the technological feasibility and economic viability of ambitious emissions reductions in South Africa, for example the need to consider the challenges of the lack of energy alternatives at scale.

Engagement with Climate-Related Regulations: BUSA appears to have engaged positively on GHG emissions and renewable energy legislation in South Africa in 2020-21, however in 2022 it was unsupportive of the South African carbon tax. In an August 2021 press release, BUSA supported a more ambitious 2030 GHG target for South Africa under its NDC. In May 2021, CEO Cas Coovadia reiterated this position, although did not support any further increases in ambition until 2030 to allow for “economic recovery and stabilisation”. From 2020-222 BUSA has consistently supported the public procurement of renewable technologies under South Africa’s Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme (REIPPPP) via {839700 October 2020], November 2021 and July 2022 CEO statements. However, BUSA signed a joint statement with other South African industry associations in September 2022, expressing their positions on the South African carbon tax proposals under the South African Taxation Laws Amendment Bill (TLAB). In the statement, BUSA supported the extension of phase 1 of the tax to 2023, called for lower tax rates from 2023-25, supported introducing free allocations and subsidies up to 2030, and advocated for a delay in increasing the carbon price until post-2035.

Positioning on Energy Transition: Despite broadly positive top-line statements, BUSA does not appear to be fully supportive of the energy transition in line with IPCC science, supporting a sustained role for fossil gas in the energy mix alongside low-carbon technologies such as green hydrogen and renewables. In a July 2022 Climate Home News article, BUSA Head of Energy and Environment Happy Khambule supported South Africa’s new ‘energy action plan’ and its provisions for renewable energy, however it also supported the integration of natural gas into the energy mix without reference to carbon capture and storage (CCS). In an August 2021 press release, BUSA supported a transition away from coal in the energy mix, including no new coal plants built after 2030 and the phase-out of coal in the economy by 2042. However, this statement also supported investment in gas into the 2040s, without placing clear conditions on the need for CCS or methane abatement measures. In a November 2021 post on its corporate website, BUSA also supported the transition of coal to natural gas without placing clear conditions on the deployment of CCS. BUSA CEO Cas Coovadia appeared to support the South African Integrated Energy Plan in a December 2021 press release, however the IEP suggests that a transition of the energy mix will include the role of coal and fossil gas.

In contrast, in a June 2022 press release BUSA CEO Cas Coovadia supported an increase in the embedded generation licensing threshold to 100MW, and the approval of 16 new renewable energy projects in South Africa. BUSA further supported this amendment in a July 2022 Daily Maverick article. In an August 2022 interview with, Coovadia supported South Africa's 'Energy Action Plan', calling for a more sustainable, cleaner and more efficiency energy system. The Plan also aims to remove the 100MW cap on embedded generation, allowing for higher capacity in new generation projects, including renewables. Coovadia also advocated for 15GW of new energy capacity in South Africa, which would consist of mainly renewables, in a July 2022 press release. Furthermore, in a November 2021 Engineering News Article, Coovadia supported an $8.5-billion (R131-billion) financing package, mobilized by developed nations at COP26, that aims to aid the energy transition of less developed countries including South Africa.

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