Translating policy into law : a critical review of South Africa's emerging legal framework governing biofuels

Master Thesis


Permanent link to this Item
Journal Title
Link to Journal
Journal ISSN
Volume Title

University of Cape Town

There exists a sense of global urgency in the rapid growth of biofuel policy documents. This urgency is especially apparent over the past decade. This is as a result of the shift to incorporate renewable energies into the generation sector to further instil the principles of sustainable development. Biofuels remain a controversial issue drawing both protagonists and antagonists in the debate around agriculture. Notwithstanding this dispute, many countries have moved to integrate biofuels as an essential component in their energy blend. As a result of this controversy and their many potential impacts on other key sectors, most notably agriculture, stringent legal frameworks need to be introduced to regulate the biofuels industry. Several countries have already introduced legal frameworks of this nature. The advance of biofuels offers developing countries a perspective of self-security and valid economic stature at both the national and international levels. South African policy makers have indicated that biofuels will form an integral component of the country's future energy sector. This has been done through the release of the Biofuels Industrial Strategy of the Republic of South Africa (Industrial Strategy) in 2007, followed by the Draft Position Paper on the South African Biofuels Regulatory Framework (Position Paper) published in January 2014. The Position Paper outlines the key elements of the country's anticipated legal regime governing biofuels. It forms the focus of this dissertation that seeks to critically review South Africa's future legal framework governing biofuels. This dissertation serves to determine whether or not the future policy contains the necessary components which appear to underlie successful biofuel regimes, namely: an identification of the different types of fuels and their products; provisions for mandatory blending; licensing and permits; identification of reference crops; pricing schemes; incentives and criteria for the eligibility of government support; environmental management; and institutions. The critical review of the Position Paper is done utilising the plethora of South African legislation that highlight the move towards sustainable living. An array of policy documents with varying focuses such as fiscal directives and climate change mitigation is drawn from to effectively review the future legal biofuels regime in South Africa. Existing legislation is used in the critique to address the mechanisms from which the future framework will acquire governing support. This dissertation discusses the individual elements of the future regime and whether they suffice as effective regulatory tools in a legal biofuel framework, and if not, changes the regime should implement to do so.