South Africa is a rapidly growing middle-income economy with a coal-based energy system that generates high greenhouse gases emissions, on a par with the richest economies in the world. The country has pledged to significantly reduce its emissions (by 34% in 2020 and by 42% in 2025 relative to business as usual, conditional on financing and technical support from the international community), and it is actively discussing policies to achieve this goal, including a carbon tax. Yet climate mitigation is hardly the only challenge that South Africa faces. Despite significant progress in overcoming the inequalities inherited from the apartheid era and in improving quality of life since the onset of the democratic regime in 1994, economic growth has slowed down in recent years, poverty remains high and large inequalities persist.
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