SA's 'major polluters' told to release crucial greenhouse gas emissions data
Environment, forestry and fisheries minister Barbara Creecy has ordered several companies considered as “major polluters” to disclose their greenhouse gas (GHG) emission data and reduction plans amid the devastating impact of Covid-19.
The instruction comes after a court battle lodged by the Centre for Environmental Rights (CER) against Creecy's department in 2019.
The centre had requested access to information under the Promotion of Access to Information Act, 2000.
The department, in response, provided the companies’ annual GHG emissions, their plans to reduce their GHG emissions over the next five years and audit reports demonstrating whether there had been progress against these plans.
The DEFF had blacked out information such as the companies’ anticipated emission reductions for the next five years. The centre then lodged an appeal requesting the disclosure of the companies’ redacted production and usage rates — crucial information for verification of GHG emissions stated in the reports — as well as the anticipated emissions reductions from all the companies’ pollution prevention plans and audit reports.
Creecy upheld the appeal, saying DEFF’s reasons for refusing to provide the information were inadequate — lacking in substance and detail.
She has since ordered the DEFF to make the redacted GHG emission values available to the CER within seven days of the end of the Covid-19 lockdown.
She found that “the overall purpose of the administration of justice requires the disclosure of the anticipated projected emissions and the data relating to anticipated and actual emission reductions”.
The centre has welcomed the decision which it said would not allow big polluting corporates to hide behind government when it comes to GHG emission data.
“Data on companies’ anticipated GHG emissions are invaluable to enable the public to properly assess emission reduction strategies of polluting companies and to inform the public and shareholders not only of the climate risks to which these companies are exposed, but the risks they pose for the whole planet.
“The climate crisis adversely impacts all people, particularly vulnerable communities, young people and those with existing compromised health conditions. The public needs to know how companies plan to reduce their GHG emissions, in order to hold them accountable when they fail to do so,” said Nicole Loser, attorney at the CER.
Creecy said full access to the information would foster and contribute towards transparency and accountability which is owed to the public regarding matters of the environment.
Some of the companies which had been ordered to make available the information are Eskom, Sasol, ArcelorMittal, PPC, Exxaro, South32, Glencore, Seriti, SAPPI and Anglo American.