Climate Change Interventions in South Africa: The Significance of Earthlife Africa Johannesburg v Minister of Environmental Affairs (Thabametsi case)  JOL 37526 (GP)
Keywords:climate change, climate-change impact assessment, socio-economic and environmental situations, greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions
South Africa is exposed to climate vulnerabilities owing to its socio-economic and environmental situations. It is, therefore, not a surprise that it is a signatory to:
the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change
the Kyoto Protocol ; and
the 2015 Paris Agreement, and has endorsed the Sustainable Development Goals, and thereby committed to contribute to the global effort to reduce and mitigate greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
Both the Paris Agreement in its article 3 and SDG No. 13, respectively, require every nation to undertake effort with a view to addressing climate change. The application of the above instruments for the purpose of addressing climate change is important but, in reality, states hardly divert their attention to climate change while pursuing economic development objectives. Whether and to what extent a court can compel government and its agents in South Africa to take the impact of climate change into consideration in its developmental pursuit is the main subject matter of Earthlife Africa Johannesburg v Minister of Environmental Affairs (Thabametsi) ((2017) JOL 37526 (GP)). Although a High Court decision, Thabametsi is the first case of its kind to engage with climate-change impact assessment in South Africa.