National Business Initiative

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Johannesburg, South Africa
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Climate Lobbying Overview: National Business Initiative (NBI) has active and positive engagement on the energy transition in South Africa, however the organization does appear to support fossil gas as a transitional fuel. NBI’s engagement with climate-related regulations is also positive, albeit limited.

Top-line Messaging on Climate Policy: NBI has communicated consistently positive top-line positions on climate-related policy. The organization supported the goal of net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 across various reports, including a July 2022 report titled ‘It All Hinges on Renewables’. In the same report, NBI also supported limiting atmospheric warming to 1.5°C. In a December 2021 report titled ‘A Guide to Climate Change for South African CEOs’, and NBI appeared to support the goals of the Paris Agreement. NBI also advocated for an ambitious South African NDC to be submitted before COP26 in an August 2021 press release.

NBI communicated top-line support for carbon pricing in South Africa on its corporate website, accessed in March 2022. Additionally, in a July 2020 media release, the organization appeared to support economic policies and a stimulus package in South Africa to facilitate a green recovery in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, stating that packages should support sectors that “decarbonise the economy and build resilience to climate change”. Further, NBI appeared to support energy and climate policy in South Africa in a February 2022 ESI Africa report.

Engagement with Climate-Related Regulations: NBI has positive positions on climate regulations, although its engagement is limited. On its corporate website, accessed in March 2022, NBI supported South Africa’s Carbon Tax, stating that it is critical for companies to engage with the South African National Treasury and its plans for a carbon tax, and for companies to ensure it is implemented in a way that allows the transition to a low-carbon economy. In tweets from July 2020 and November 2021, NBI appeared to support GHG emissions targets, and also appeared to support government intervention in achieving these targets. Additionally, NBI appeared to support energy efficiency legislation in South Africa on it corporate website, accessed in March 2022.

Positioning on Energy Transition: NBI appears to strongly support the transition of the energy mix, particularly in South Africa, however it has mixed positions on the deployment of fossil gas as a transition fuel. In a July 2022 report titled ‘It All Hinges on Renewables’, NBI strongly advocated for the transition to a renewables-dominated energy mix in South Africa. The organization called for a change to the status quo in the energy sector, and supported an improved policy-environment to allow for the large-scale deployment of renewables, including wind and solar, in South Africa. In the same report, NBI also appeared to support the development of a green hydrogen economy in South Africa. NBI also supported steep reductions of coal in the South African energy mix between 2020-2050, and also supported the early decommissioning of coal-fired power plants, in an August 2021 report titled ‘Decarbonising South Africa’s Power Sector’. Furthermore, in a July 2022 interview with BusinessLive, NBI CEO Joanne Yawitch supported the removal of the 100MW cap on self-embedded generation in South Africa. This allows for increased embedded production of energy, and also increases the penetration of renewables into the South African energy mix.

However, NBI also supported the use of fossil gas as a transitional fuel to facilitate the move from coal to renewables. While NBI appears to recognize the importance of Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) in conjunction with fossil gas, the organization appeared to hold reservations regarding the feasibility of CCS in South Africa in a February 2022 report titled ‘The Role of Gas in South Africa’s Path to Net-Zero’. Despite this, in the same February 2022 report, NBI supported the phase-out of natural gas in the South African energy mix by 2050, and supported the repurposing of natural gas assets to be used in the production of green hydrogen. The IPCC recommends that unabated fossil gas be completely phased out of the global energy mix, within timelines between 2020-2050; NBI seems to hold some positions that align with the IPPC’s recommendations, and others that support the continuation of unabated natural gas in South Africa. Furthermore, in a July 2022 report, NBI was unsupportive of tapping Southern African gas reserves, stating that the long lead times to first production, and the risk of stranded assets, outweighs the socio-economic benefits of gas development.

NBI has also supported the decarbonization of the mining, petrochemicals and chemicals, power, and agricultural sectors in South Africa in its ‘Just Transition and Climate Pathways Study for South Africa’ report series, published from October 2021 to February 2022.

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