We have expanded the list of climate policies we assess company engagement with to incorporate land-use related policy, referring to legislative or regulatory measures to enhance and protect ecosystems and land where carbon is being stored. Assessments under this category are currently underweighted in terms of their contribution to the overall company metrics. This weighting will be progressively increased over the next 6 months.
We adjusted the terminology used to describe the queries running down the left-hand side of our scoring matrix and added additional explanatory text to the info-boxes. This has no impact on the scores and methodology. It has been done following user feedback to improve clarity.
Climate Lobbying Overview: The Minerals Council South Africa (Minerals Council) appears to be actively and negatively lobbying climate change policy in South Africa, particularly on the issue of the carbon tax and the role of coal in the energy mix. However, the group has shown some support for renewable energy and GHG emissions legislation in 2020-21.
Top-line Messaging on Climate Policy: The Minerals Council appears to have mixed positions on climate change in its top-line communications. In an October 2021 press release, the Minerals Council supported the goal of net-zero by 2050 in line with the Paris Agreement. In its February 2023 Climate Change Position statement, Minerals Council stated that addressing climate change must include incentives for the private sector to invest in low carbon technology, and emphasized that industry competitiveness of internationally trade-exposed industries must be maintained. This contradicts the association’s support for the “application of the full toolbox of measures to address climate change” in its February 2020 position paper on South Africa’s Budget.
Engagement with Climate-Related Regulations: The Minerals Council’s engagement with specific items of legislation has focused primarily on South Africa’s carbon tax, which the group has consistently lobbied to block, weaken or delay since 2015. Minerals Council 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, Minerals Council 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. In a fin24 report published in February 2022 the Minerals Council was reported to have welcomed the extension of the first phase of South Africa’s carbon tax policy, which was extended until 2025 and allows for three further years of 60-95% tax allowances for high emitters.
In addition, in an October 2022 submission to a public hearing on the Climate Change Bill, Minerals Council called for penalties for emitters that exceed their carbon budgets under the Bill not to inflict punishment, but rather encourage deterrence and emissions reductions. It also emphasized that penalties could give rise to economic consequences. However, the Minerals Council appears to have engaged more positively on some other forms of regulation. In a May 2021 virtual summit, CEO Roger Baxter also supported the fast-tracking of renewable energy deployment under Bid Window 5 of the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme (REIPPPP) in South Africa.
Positioning on Energy Transition: The Minerals Council continues to support a sustained role for coal in the energy mix, despite top-line support for a “gradual” transition. In its February 2023 Climate Change Position statement, Minerals council supported further research and development into clean coal technologies to further extend the life of the South African coal mining industry. In an October 2021 press release, the Minerals Council stated that coal would be a significant provider of electricity in South Africa for decades, emphasizing its contribution to employment, exports and the economy. In a September 2021 presentation to South Africa's Presidential Climate Change Commission, CEO Roger Baxter argued that coal-fired power remains critical to baseload power, and confirmed support for incentives and funding for "clean coal" technologies. As of October 2021, the Minerals Council leads an initiative called ‘Coal Mining Matters’, which supports a significant role for coal in the energy mix.
However, the Minerals Council also appears to have some positive messaging targeting other issues related to an energy transition. For example, CEO Roger Baxter supported South Africa’s ‘energy action plan’, specifically supporting the lifting of the 100MW cap on private sector renewable energy project and removing red tape in the renewable power procurement regulatory process. Baxter also communicated support for green hydrogen production via Twitter in September 2021. Furthermore, in an October 2021 press release, the Minerals Council supported increased investment in renewables and green hydrogen in South Africa, and the retirement of coal-fired power stations (although the entity also supported a significant role for coal "for decades").