Apart from the conservation-focused Green Party, the EFF has trumped all other large political parties in terms of its environmental and climate change policies.
The African Climate Reality Project, with co-funding from the EU, has published a political scorecard rating political party manifestos.
The EFF has been labelled a leader, beating out the DA, ANC, Good, UDM, Cope, IFP and Freedom Front Plus.
Each party's manifesto is assessed against a set of 69 criteria, focusing on environment, climate-friendly measures and focusing on environmental and climate justice, and good governance (eg ensuring a just transition, clean water for all, and commitment to participatory democracy).
The EFF's manifesto sets a 10% hard target for greenhouse gas emission reduction, the only party to do so, above the current national trajectory. The party places emphasis on a just transition and inclusive policies, and mining-affected communities' right to say "no". The party, however, misses the mark on mainstreaming environmental sustainability and climate action throughout, phasing out fossil fuels and nuclear in the energy mix and supporting small farmers for climate resilience.
The African Christian Democratic Party was ranked last. The scorecard records a “deafening silence” from the party on the environment.
“The ACDP misses the (green) mark on: you name it - comprehensive vision for a sustainable, low-carbon future, shift from fossil fuels to renewable energy, electricity and clean water for all, public transport, ecosystem preservation, natural carbon-sinks enhancement, climate change adaptation, energy efficiency, improved waste management, just transition, commitment to good governance,” the report says.
The Green Party was praised for mainstreaming environmental and climate issues in the general policy agenda, for promoting no trade-off between environmental and economic interests, and calling for environmental and climate education to be stepped up. The party, however, missed the mark on articulating environmental sustainability and a low carbon future for all in key sectors, addressing species extinction, climate change adaptation, sustainable human settlements, low carbon transport and the impact of the meat industry.
Cope was praised for making climate change a developmental priority for South Africa, recognising that the "green economy" is the economy of the future. The party, however, was found to lack an integrated approach, setting hard and ambitious targets for greenhouse gas emission reduction and clean water for all.
The DA scored highly for its promotion of building climate change adaptation capacity, greener electricity generation, addressing landfills, and increased government accountability.
But the party missed the mark on: phasing out fossil fuels (including shale gas), taxing carbon efficiently, sustainable agriculture, energy efficiency and participatory democracy.
The ANC manifesto seeks a just energy transition, more inclusive and sustainable urban development, a boost for the recycling industry and increased government accountability.
The party however lacked in terms of mainstreaming environmental sustainability, phasing out fossil fuels and nuclear, waste reduction, sustainable agriculture and environmentally sustainable land reform.
Speaking in Salt River last week at a debate to draw attention to the threat of climate change, Noelle Garcin from the African Climate Reality Project said that as a result of climate change, South Africa had experienced its worst recorded drought and neighbours in Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe continue to experience the devastation of Cyclone Idai and Cyclone Kenneth.