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IPW: South Africa’s climate change law, and New Zealand's boost to EV charging

10 May 2024

In this week’s Infrastructure Policy Watch, South Africa approves new climate bill and New Zealand targets more electric vehicle infrastructure.

IPW: South Africa’s climate change law, and New Zealand's boost to EV charging
South Africa’s parliament has approved a new bill to support climate action. Image credit: Shutterstock

South Africa passes climate change legislation

South Africa’s parliament has approved a new Climate Change Bill, the country's first overarching legal framework for climate action.

It should enable the government to speed up its response to reduce and adapt to the effects of climate change.

A priority of the new law is to ensure a just transition to a low-carbon and climate-resilient economy that supports South Africa’s wider developmental goals.

The aim is to embed climate action across government. Measures include:

  • New provincial and city-level forums on climate change;
  • Putting the Presidential Climate Commission on a formal footing as an independent body to advise on a just transition; and
  • Formalising South Africa’s greenhouse gas inventory to strengthen the evidence base for climate action and reporting.

The bill requires the government to set out a long-term emissions pathway for the country.

It also empowers the government to set emissions targets for specific sectors and carbon budgets for large emitters.

A new adaptation plan

The government will also have to set national adaptation objectives and climate scenarios to assess South Africa’s vulnerabilities.

A new national adaptation strategy and plan must also be developed within two years of the bill becoming law.

The plan will have to be reviewed and amended every five years.

The Climate Change Bill has now been sent for presidential assent.

The ICE’s view

The new law is an important step in South Africa’s climate change response.

It's important that the legislation prioritises climate adaptation alongside mitigation efforts.

Climate change is already happening, and key infrastructure systems will be increasingly vulnerable without adequate planning and investment in resilience.

The ICE’s policy position statement on climate resilience and adaptation outlines that investment in this area is essential to protect countries.

However, turning the legal framework into deliverable decarbonisation and adaptation plans will be much harder.

Then there’s the challenge of paying for it.

Governments around the world are grappling with those questions.

The ICE’s Enabling Better Infrastructure programme aims to assist the strategic planning and prioritisation of infrastructure to help meet these future challenges.

This includes sharing international best practice to develop robust, long-term strategies for prioritising investment and delivering sustainable national infrastructure.

New Zealand invests in electric vehicle charging infrastructure

New Zealand’s government has announced 25 new high-speed charging hubs for electric vehicles (EVs).

These will be located along key routes between major urban centres.

The government has set a goal of 10,000 charging points by 2030.

To achieve that, it’s also announced:

  • A new cost benefit framework to guide government investment in public EV chargers, with the aim of maximising private investment.
  • Cutting red tape and regulation, including removing the requirement for a resource consent to install public EV chargers.
  • Standards to make it easier for consumers to shift home EV charging demand away from network peaks.
  • Working with the Electricity Authority to remove barriers such as connection costs and ensure consistency in EV charging connections across New Zealand.
  • A new Cross Agency Taskforce to drive the programme and engage with industry. Taskforce members include the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment, the Ministry of Transport, and the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority.

The ICE’s view

The measures announced in New Zealand are intended to boost public confidence in EVs and accelerate their uptake.

Public behavioural changes – like switching to an EV – are essential to achieve the emissions cuts needed to cut the carbon emissions produced by global economies.

ICE polling for a recent policy paper found that many people want to make changes but lack the confidence or knowledge needed to do so.

The paper explored how governments can overcome that.

Its recommendations included addressing market and non-financial barriers, like access to funding and low carbon infrastructure, and creating clear policy paths for industry to follow.

Measurable targets, supported by investment and stable policies, give people and businesses the confidence to make changes.

In case you missed it

  • Global partnerships have helped Peru deliver key infrastructure – find out how.
  • Thinks Insight & Strategy’s research lead George Smyth discusses how research can influence public behaviour changes relating to net zero.
  • David McNaught, policy manager at ICE