Data and Insights: South Africa

VCS Quarterly Update

ISSUE #1 - Q3/2020

South Africa approved a national carbon tax in June 2019 — one of only a few African nations to do so, and the one where the tax has the broadest coverage. Under the associated Carbon Offset Regulation, liable entities can satisfy a portion of their tax obligations by using offsets certified to voluntary carbon standards. By implementing the regulation, the national government has 1) indicated that voluntary carbon offsetting efforts are now well-placed to provide reductions to the domestic market for the purpose of a carbon tax, and b) created a system/mechanism that can serve as a model for future project development.

Verra’s Verified Carbon Standard (VCS) Program is recognized as an accredited standard under the Carbon Offset Regulations for the Tax, and Verified Carbon Units (VCUs) from projects in South Africa can be used for purposes of the carbon tax. As a result, the South African carbon tax mechanism has the potential to drive finance to domestic projects that are delivering emission reductions and removals, protecting the environment and generating sustainable development benefits, such as reduced poverty and the promotion of sustainable cities and communities.

More information is available at: 


Main Takeaways

The Verified Carbon Standard has a long-standing history in South Africa

VCS projects were first established in South Africa in 2009 and total issuances spiked in 2012 to 144,576 VCUs.

2020 VCU issuances from South African projects already surpass total 2019 issuances

As of September 30, South African VCS projects issued 120,000 VCUs in 2020, surpassing the total number of VCUs issued in 2019 (fewer than 80,000 VCUs). This is likely driven by the increased demand for carbon credits due to the new carbon tax. 

The number of retired credits being used for the purposes of the carbon tax during the first year after its implementation (June 2019 – June 2020) will be known after October 29, 2020 (the deadline for surrendering credits from Carbon Offset Administration System (COAS) to the South African Revenue Service and paying the tax).

The majority of eligible VCS projects are in the energy sector

To date, the majority of VCS projects in South Africa are in the energy and waste handling and disposal sectors. While this is expected to continue, new projects in sectors such as construction and manufacturing are also likely.  Stakeholders have informed us that project development is beginning to increase in the land-use sector, which will yield development benefits beyond carbon.

VCS Data and Insights: South Africa - Q3/2020
This chart includes cumulative data about VCS projects in South Africa.
Project Total
Under Development 1
Under Validation 1
Registration Requested 3
Registered 14
Transferred* 5
*Projects whose credits were transferred from another GHG program
Project Types
Energy industries (renewable/non-renewable sources)
Waste handling and disposal
Chemical industry
Industrial processing
Project Total
Energy industries (renewable/non-renewable sources) 11
Waste handling and disposal 6
Transport 1
Chemical industry 4
Industrial processing 1
*Agriculture, Forestry, and Land Use
3,120,363 Expected Annual Reductions from All Projects in South Africa
Summary Totals to Date
VCU Issuances* (Total to Date)

*One VCU represents one tonne of carbon dioxide equivalent that was removed from the atmosphere or not emitted.

Greenhouse gas equivalencies for emission reductions and removals were calculated using the EPA Greenhouse Gas Equivalencies Calculator

VCUs Globally
cars taken off the road
for a year
806,021 VCUs from Projects in South Africa
VCU Issuances by Year
*The South Africa carbon tax was implemented in 2019.
**as of 30 September, 2020
VCU Issuances by Project Type
Energy industries
Waste handling and disposal
Chemical industry
Fugitive emissions
Project Type VCUs
Energy industries 275,639
Waste handling and disposal 422,176
Chemical industry 98,563
Fugitive emissions 9,643
VCUs that have been purchased and taken off the market forever; a retired VCU represents a carbon offset.
256,280 VCUs
cars taken off the road
for a year

The number of retired credits being used for purposes of the Carbon Tax is not yet known given that the date for surrendering credits from COAS to the South African Revenue System is October 29, 2020.


Verra looks forward to working alongside local organizations to increase the understanding of Verra’s standards-based frameworks among project developers, the private sector, and regulators. In addition, the VCS will support the development of new project types in South Africa through existing and emerging simplified rules and procedures that are useful to the local context (such as standardized approaches for baselines and additionality). The increased availability of well-designed, cost-effective carbon offset projects and auditing options are likely to drive national and international investment in climate mitigation, and sustainable development outcomes locally.

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