South Africa’s Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment Minister Barbara Creecy says a breakthrough is needed at COP26 on the issue of climate finance, warning that the failure of developed countries to honour their $100-billion-a-year commitments has led a breakdown of trust.
Addressing a virtual stakeholder consultation session on South Africa’s position ahead of the upcoming climate talks in Glasgow, Scotland, Creecy said that COP26 would not live up to the expectation of being an “ambitious COP” unless clarity was provided on the actual mobilisation of the $100-billion already pledged.
“If developed counties want to re-establish trust, they have a road to travel.”
However, South Africa would also be pushing for a new and “more ambitious” financing goal for the period beyond 2025, particularly in light of Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development research that shows that developing countries would require between $3-trillion and $4-trillion to implement the mitigation and adaptation programmes needed to bolster their climate resiliency.
South Africa would, thus, propose that the $100-billion figure become the “floor” for yearly commitments that should be ramped up progressively to $750-billion by 2030.
In parallel, South Africa would be seeking specific financing support for its own more ambitious mitigation plan, as contained in its updated Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) range.
The new NDC range of 420- to 350-million tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (Mt CO2-eq) for 2030 is an improvement on its 2015 pledge of 614 Mt CO2-eq to 398 Mt CO2-eq, with an upper level that is aligned with the Paris Agreement’s pledge to cap global warming to below 2 °C above pre-industrial levels and the lower figure compatible with a 1.5 °C pathway.
South Africa will seek to tap international financiers for grants to support a just transition from coal, as well as concessional loans to support Eskom’s just energy transition strategy, which has received Cabinet approval.
Creecy reported that a committee of Ministers – drawn mainly from the economic cluster, but also including the international relations portfolio – had been established to focus on the financing implications of the NDC and the Eskom strategy, as well as the regulatory and policy implications.
She dismissed suggestions of division in Cabinet on the issue, saying that all Ministers are bound by Cabinet decisions, including the NDC, which would have policy implications, including for the Integrated Resource Plan, which is widely held to be outdated.
Creecy described as “valid” the security-of-supply concerns raised by Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe, who has warned of a possible economic collapse if South Africa were to agree to shut its coal plants prematurely.
“Planning, timing and pacing” of the transition were important to ensuring an orderly energy transition, particularly given South Africa’s current deficit of electricity supply.
Creecy also defended Eskom’s decision to include gas-to-power in its decarbonisation plans, arguing that gas was an important transition fuel.
Besides climate finance, South Africa would also be pursing greater ambition, especially in the area of adaptation, at the COP26, where it aims to secure fresh financing commitments for adaptation in Africa.
South Africa will focus, in particular, on Article 6.3 of the Paris Agreement to secure a predictable source of funding for adaptation, which would grow as carbon markets grow.
“We note with concern that, while the Green Climate Fund has, in principle, agreed to a 50:50 balance of funding for adaptation and mitigation, in practice the funding is highly skewed towards mitigation.”
South Africa will propose an adaptation target of having 50% of the global population being resilient to the adverse impact of climate change, from drought to floods, by 2030, and increasing that to 90% by 2050.