Sustainable development policies and measures: Institutional issues and electrical efficiency in South Africa Climate Policy

Journal Article


Journal Title

Climate Policy

Journal ISSN
Volume Title

Taylor & Francis


University of Cape Town

An innovative approach is introduced for helping developing countries to make their development more sustainable, and also to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions as a co-benefit. Such an approach is proposed as part of the multilateral framework on climate change. The concept of sustainable development policies and measures (SD-PAMs) is outlined, making clear that it is distinct from many other approaches in starting from development rather than explicit climate targets. The potential of SD-PAMs is illustrated with a case-study of energy efficiency in South Africa, drawing on energy modelling for the use of electricity in industry. The results show multiple benefits both for local sustainable development and for mitigating global climate change. The benefits of industrial energy efficiency in South Africa include significant reductions in local air pollutants; improved environmental health; creation of additional jobs; reduced electricity demand; and delays in new investments in electricity generation. The co-benefit of reducing GHG emissions could result in a reduction of as much as 5% of SA’s total projected energy CO2 emissions by 2020. Institutional support and policy guidance is needed at both the international and national level to realize the potential of SD-PAMs. This analysis demonstrates that if countries begin to act early to move towards greater sustainability, they will also start to bend the curve of their emissions path.