Experts have said that the carbon tax – which was introduced beginning of the month – is way too low and it will have almost no effect in curbing South Africa’s greenhouse gas emissions.

Companies will pay 42 US cents a ton of carbon emissions, whereas an international study says a carbon tax should be between $50 to $100 a ton if it is to be effective in bringing down emissions.

But experts say that does not mean that South Africa’s new carbon tax is a waste of time.

They welcome it as a major milestone in South Africa’s bid to tackle climate change, because for the first, SA has put a price on greenhouse emissions.

This means that the cost of these emissions, which until now has been borne by society at large, will begin to be reflected on the balance sheets of the companies or institutions that produce them.

The purpose of the tax is not to punish, but as Treasury has said, to “nudge our economy onto a sustainable growth path”.

The low tax is designed to initially soften the effect on companies but, will be increased over time, giving companies the chance to work out ways to cut their emissions and lower their tax bill.

Carbon tax introduced on June 1 is set at R120 a ton of carbon dioxide emitted and the government has made allowances in this first phase of the tax which runs until 2022.

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