South Africa welcomes 6th IPCC assessment on Climate Change

11 August 2021


“South Africa welcomes the long-awaited sixth assessment by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). This is an important contribution to enhancing scientific understanding on climate change, that must inform international policy at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)’s COP26 in Glasgow, Scotland, in November.” says the Minister of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment, Ms Barbara Creecy.

The assessment report, which was released on Monday is the first in a series of reports to be adopted under the IPCC 6th assessment cycle. In 2022, the IPCC will release the next reports on impacts, adaptation and vulnerability; another report dealing with mitigation of climate change; and finally, a synthesis report of the key findings. 

The report also highlights and analyses the detail available in terms of climate change in southern Africa, reinforcing existing scientific evidence that the region is likely to become drier, and reductions in precipitation can already be detected.

The report states that droughts will become more frequent at 1.5 °C of global warming, and more so as the level of global warming increases.

It has also long been known that the region is warming drastically, at about twice the global rate of warming. The effects of warming and the limited options for adaptation to new temperatures and rainfall patterns will be assessed in the upcoming Working Group II report to be tabled next year.

“Sustaining the global temperature of 1.5C by the end of the 21st century will require global scale negative emissions in the second half of the century to reduce atmospheric CO2” said the Minister. “In this regard the work of the Climate Commission to identify pathways for a Just Transition to a low carbon economy and climate resilient society by mid-century has never been more important”.

“Climate action remains a national and international priority.   And South Africa remains firmly committed to contributing our best effort towards the global cause of addressing climate change. In this regard we will be submitting our revised Nationally Determined Contribution to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions to the UNFCCC ahead of COP 26,” the Minister added.

South Africa supports the common position of the African Group of Negotiators, ahead of COP26, that ambition and climate action need to be dramatically increased to advance all three of the interconnected global goals in the UNFCCC´s Paris Agreement, namely; mitigation, adaptation and means of implementation.  In this regard it is urgent that developed countries urgently honour their obligation to provide financial support to developing countries who already face the impact of climate change.

“In the context of this report, issues of Climate Justice have never been more compelling. As we transition our energy generation and at least seven sectors of our economy, we must ensure that those involved in the vulnerable sections of our society and economy do not carry a disproportionate burden for climate change and its mitigation. Eskom has already commissioned significant research on the impact of the transition on coal fired power stations facing decommissioning later this decade. Significant long term financial resources, at concessional rates, will be needed to introduce new technologies and open up significant new job creation opportunities so that our country joins others who are benefitting from the green technological transition across the world.” said the Minister.

African countries are already struggling to adapt to the reality of a changing climate and they urgently require international support for their mitigation and adaptation efforts.  To avoid the stark future foreshadowed by the IPCCC report, COP26 needs to prioritise securing finance, technology and capacity building support from developed to developing countries.

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