South Africa’s “fair share”: mitigation targets in the updated first NDC in an international context (UCT 2021)
This report considers the 2020/21 update of South Africa’s mitigation NDC (first submitted in 2015) from the point of view of South Africa’s obligations under the Paris Agreement, to develop a framework for determining what constitutes a “fair contribution” to the global mitigation effort.
Parties to the Paris Agreement are to communicate “nationally determined contributions” (NDCs) towards the achievement of the goals of the Paris Agreement, to keep global temperature well below 2 °C and pursue efforts to keep them below 1.5 °C. Countries therefore need benchmarks to provide assurance that their contributions to the global effort are fair.
In communicating their NDCs, countries are also expected to provide information on how they consider their contributions are “fair and ambitious” in terms of the Paris Agreement, and how these contribute to the global goals of the Paris Agreement.
The concept of “fairness”, in the context of common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities in the light of different national circumstances, is an important link between individual countries’ contributions and the overall temperature goal of the Paris Agreement, and to its other goals. In other words, within the framework of the UNFCCC and Paris Agreement, the magnitude of each individual country’s contribution must be “fair and ambitious” in the light of these principles. Fairness in this context is thus a key consideration in determining what each country’s contribution should be, including in the setting of NDC targets.