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 2020-21. However, BUSA also continues to support a sustained role for natural 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.

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 poverty, inequality, unemployment, and the lack of energy alternatives at scale. Similar concerns were also emphasized in comments on South Africa’s draft Climate Change Bill in August 2018.

Engagement with Climate-Related Regulations: BUSA appears to have engaged positively on GHG emissions and renewable energy legislation in South Africa in 2020-21. 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”. Throughout 2020, BUSA consistently supported the public procurement of renewable technologies under South Africa’s Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme (REIPPPP) via press releases and CEO messaging.

Prior to 2020, BUSA’s engagement with climate-related policy was less supportive. In a presentation to South Africa’s Select Committee on Finance in March 2018, BUSA opposed the carbon tax in South Africa, emphasizing the costs for business and consumers. In comments on South Africa’s Draft Climate Change Bill in August 2018, BUSA also lobbied to weaken GHG emissions legislation. Firstly, BUSA advocated for increased flexibility and less stringent penalties for companies exceeding mandatory carbon budgets. Secondly, BUSA also supported a “phase down” rather than “phase out” of GHGs such as SF6 and HFCs.

Positioning on Energy Transition: BUSA does not appear to be fully supportive of the energy transition, supporting a sustained role for natural gas in the energy mix alongside low-carbon technologies such as green hydrogen and renewables.

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 May 2021, BUSA CEO, Cas Coovadia, also supported a combination of gas and renewables as the “least-cost energy mix and the fastest route to decarbonisation”.

In 2021, BUSA has also supported policies and investment to facilitate the uptake of renewables, green hydrogen, and battery storage in the energy mix via a press release and CEO messaging.