Whilst South Africa has not experienced any litigation challenging a national climate policy/law, such a case can based on the following grounds:
- Human Rights: Infringement of Section 24 of the South African Constitution, which guarantees the right to an adequate environment.
Under South African constitution, Locus Standi has been relaxed so that individuals and associations acting in their own interest, on behalf of another person, in the interest of their members and in the public interest can approach court to enforce the Bill of Rights (Section 38 Constitution).
The lack of litigation could be because of absence of climate legislation, which makes it difficult to base climate change claims on specific statutory provisions. The existing climate policy documents (National Climate Change Response Green Paper of 2010, the National Climate Change Response White Paper of 2011) are not binding and therefore not enforceable against the government.
For more country specific context and relevant national climate change law see: https://climate-laws.org/geographies/south-africa
This country report has been produced by Aditi Shetye, C2LI Research Assistant, Iona McEntee, C2LI Senior Research Assistant and Lydia Omuko-Jung, C2LI Legal Analyst. This summary is based on Michelle Barnard, “Climate change and the individual: South African climate change litigation” in F. Sindico and M. Moise Mbengue, Comparative Climate Change Litigation: Beyond the Usual Suspects, Springer, 2021.