Assessing emissions levels and costs associated with climate and air pollution policies in South Africa

Lucas Henneman of the Georgia Institute of Technology, USA, used the Greenhouse Gas Interactions and Synergies (GAINS) model emissions and control costs associated with eight energy and air pollution scenarios.

Lucas Henneman

Lucas Henneman


Many sectors make up the South African energy system, including electricity generation, transportation, industrial production, mining, etc. Evidence-based policies are needed to provide benefits in terms of affordable electricity, air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions reductions. The GAINS model served as the main tool for this project.


The GAINS model was used to assess emissions and control costs associated with eight energy and air pollution scenarios. Seven policy scenarios were implemented. These scenarios focused on either air pollution control technologies or on the fuel inputs used to create energy. Fuel inputs scenarios (termed activities scenarios) are based on scenarios implemented in prior modeling efforts of the energy sector in South Africa. The group was chosen to give a representative selection of scenarios that affect a range of energy sectors, including electricity production, industry, and domestic fuel use. They were also developed to reflect policies targeting local/regional air pollutants (e.g. SO2, PM2.5, and NOx) and greenhouse gas emissions.

Results and conclusions

Countrywide emissions of SO2, PM2.5, NOx, and CO2 are estimated at five-year intervals from 2015 to 2050 for each scenario. Further, the total costs of controls are estimated for each scenario. Results show that policies that reduce the reliance on coal can reduce both air pollution emissions and the costs of controls. One particularly effective policy to reduce harmful emissions of PM2.5 is to replace the solid fuels used for cooking and heating with liquid petroleum gas.

Emissions and costs estimates between 2015 and 2050 show how policies targeting fuels in certain can lead to benefits of reduced costs and emissions of harmful air pollutants and greenhouse gases. Solid fuel use in the domestic sector contributes disproportionately to the total PM2.5 emissions in the country. Aggressive climate scenarios result in drastic reductions of air pollutant emissions and control costs. This work shows the potential for GAINS to provide the type of evidence that is important in developing policies that achieve benefits in a number of areas in South Africa.


Harold Annegarn, University of Johannesburg, South Africa

Peter Rafaj, Mitigation of Air Pollution and Greenhouse Gases Program, IIASA


Lucas Henneman of the Georgia Institute of Technology, USA, is a citizen of the USA and was funded by the IIASA US National Member Organization during the SA-YSSP.

Please note these Proceedings have received limited or no review from supervisors and IIASA program directors, and the views and results expressed therein do not necessarily represent IIASA, its National Member Organizations, or other organizations supporting the work.   

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Last edited: 01 February 2016

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