Waste law and policy perspectives on municipal "land-fill to gas" CDM projects in South Africa
Nel, Stephen Albert
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Landfilling has a negative impact inter alia on the environment. Landfill gas is for example released into the atmosphere. The waste sector releases high amounts of GHG concentrations (methane gas), proving that it has climate mitigation potential. By converting methane gas into electricity, South Africa could find a way to manage waste in a more effective manner by developing, for example, waste-to-energy projects. Such projects could contribute to the mitigation of GHG emissions in South Africa while generating alternative forms of electricity. “Landfill-gas to energy" projects (LFG-to-energy projects) are established initiatives internationally and involve the generation of energy in the form of electricity from the incineration of waste. A number of larger municipalities in South Africa has already implemented or currently considers LFG-to-energy projects. Examples include the eThekwini Municipality which has installed the first LFG-to-energy project in South Africa in 2006. Three mechanisms in the Kyoto Protocol have been designed to assist developed countries to achieve their emission reduction targets: emissions trading (ET), joint implementation and the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM). CDM projects, as defined under article 12 of the Kyoto Protocol, are jointly carried out by a developed country with a reduction target, and a developing country such as South Africa. By taking part in a CDM initiative, a developed country invests in a certified project that promotes sustainable development. This mechanism in a nutshell serves to assist developing countries through technology transfer and national revenue, for example, while contributing to compliance with the Kyoto Protocol in the host country. LFG-to-energy projects are examples of CDM projects that are being developed in South Africa in terms of the Kyoto Protocol. Given the policy drive to a low carbon economy and more extensive use of alternative energy sources, it is expected that the number of LFG-to-energy projects (be they CDM projects or not) will rise in years to come. This projection raises questions about the suitability of the existing law and policy framework to regulate and direct the life-cycle of LFG to energy projects. The mini-dissertation questions by way of desktop research to what extent does domestic waste law and policy regulate LFG to energy CDM projects in local government in South Africa at present. The main objective is to identify and respond to specific gaps and any uncertainties in the existing law and policy framework.
- Law