Environmental Law: What does 2018 have in store for us?

Environmental Law: What does 2018 have in store for us?
17 Jan 2018

The year 2017 has been a busy year insofar as environmental legislation is concerned. Among the changes in 2017 was the amendments to the 2014 EIA regulations and listing notices 1 – 3. The following regulations were also published in 2017 and played a significant role in environmental management:

• Section 24G Fine Regulations published under the National Environmental Management Act 107 of 1998;

• National Greenhouse Gas Emission Reporting Regulations published under the National Environmental Management: Air Quality Act 39 of 2004;

• National Pollution Prevention Plans Regulation published under the National Environmental Management: Air Quality Act 39 of 2004;

• Water licence Application and Appeal Regulations published under the National Water Act 36 of 1998; and

• The Waste Tyre Regulations published under the National Environmental Management: Waste Act 59 of 2008 as a result of REDISA’s liquidation.

2018 will have a lot in store for us with respect to other legislative amendments, and the introduction of new legislation to ensure a sustainable and effective management of the environment. The following draft legislation will most likely come into effect within the first period of the year:

• National Environmental Management Act 107 of 1998: Draft Environmental Management Instruments Regulations. These regulations will prescribe the procedure to be followed for adopting Environmental Management Instruments.

• Water Services Act 108 of 1997: Draft Norms and Standards for Levels of Water and Sanitation Services.

• National Environmental Management: Waste Act 59 of 2008: Proposed Regulations for the Control of Import and Export of Waste. The purpose of these Regulations is to establish procedures and control regimes for the import, export and transit of waste.

National treasury has also published the much-anticipated Second Draft Carbon Tax Bill for public comment and subsequent to this process a revised Bill will be tabled before parliament mid-2018 for formal consideration and approval. This could finally result in the Bill being promulgated into law. According to Treasury, taking into account the state of the economy, the actual date of implementation of the Bill will be determined through a separate process by the Minister of Finance through an announcement during the course of 2018, or at the Budget speech in 2019.

The Bill was first published for public comment in 2015 and was expected to come into effect at the beginning of 2017. However, it was delayed due to the lack of proper regulatory impact assessment on the economic costs and benefits of imposing carbon tax. The purpose of the Bill is to impose tax on greenhouse gas emitters. The Bill has far-reaching implications in ensuring that South Africa’s national-determined contribution commitments which have been endorsed in terms of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change 2015 are fulfilled, and to reduce the nations greenhouse gas emissions to ensure that they are in line with the National Climate Change Response Policy and the National Development Plan.

When the Bill eventually comes into law the initial marginal carbon tax will be R120 per tonne of CO2e (carbon dioxide equivalent). According to treasury the effective carbon tax rate will range between R6 -R48 per ton CO2e which is much lower than the initial rate. This implementation model will be complemented by tax incentives and revenue recycling measures to allow a smooth business transition with minimal economic impact. The Bill will create a 60 per cent basic tax-free allowance, and during the implementation phases the total tax-free allowance could reach a high of up to 95 per cent.

(This article is provided for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. For more information on the topic, please contact the author/s or the relevant provider.)

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