Minister Creecy briefs media ahead of The Glascow International Climate Talks

22 October 2021

Good Morning,

With just over a week to go before the start of the 26th Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Glasgow, I thought it pertinent to brief you, on South Africa’s expectations and share with you news we received this week from the Climate Investment Funds (CIF).

The most recent governing body meeting of the Climate Investments Funds made a decision to invite South Africa together with three other countries, to participate in the Accelerating Coal Transition Investment Program.

Accordingly, we have been asked to develop an investment plan commensurate to an indicative allocation of between two and five hundred million US dollars from the Clean Technology Fund. This allocation includes a one-million-dollar Investment Plan Preparation Grant so we can develop the plan.

Based on previous experience of allocations from this Fund, we envisage that this initial amount can leverage additional blended finance from one of the multi -lateral development banks with a multiplier of three or four to one.

Our government is in the process of setting up a high powered Finance Workstream focusing on our Just Transition, which will develop this investment plan. 

We see the decision by the CIF as a small, but important first step towards laying the foundation work for the broader financing programme of our Just Transition. The focus of this investment plan be the Eskom energy transition, including repowering and repurposing of retiring coal plants and investment in new low carbon generation capacity. 

We hope to use the informal side meetings that take place at COP26 to generate further interest in supporting the country’s Just Transition to a low carbon economy and climate resilient society.

Ladies and gentlemen, our Country goes to Glasgow with a clear mandate to negotiate for the full implementation of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Paris Agreement, including the global goals on mitigation, adaptation and support for developing countries, to avoid the worst impacts of climate change on our people and the environment.

The recently released Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report tells us that in order to limit the impacts of climate change, the international community needs to collectively halve global greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 and achieve global net zero CO2 emissions by 2050, while strongly reducing other greenhouse gas emissions.

Our country, as signatory to the Paris Agreement, re-emphasises its firm commitment to contributing our best effort toward the global cause of addressing climate change. Not only have we very significantly increased the ambition of our mitigation targets, but we have also brought forward the year in which emissions are due to decline from 2035 in the initial NDC, to 2025 in the updated NDC.

The country’s mitigation target range for 2030 has been updated placing the top of the range of our revised NDC in line with the Paris Agreement's temperature limit of "well below 2 degrees", and the bottom of the range with the 1.5-degree temperature limit.

South Africa will be encouraging all Parties to submit their updated NDCs as soon as possible. We will also be encouraging countries who have not yet done so, to voluntarily submit their Low Emissions Development Strategies (LEDs) under Article 4.19.  Our country submitted our LEDS strategy to the UNFCCC in November 2020, which outlines our mid -century aspiration to achieve a low emissions economy and climate resilient society.

Developing countries generally, and SA in particular, cannot implement ambitious mitigation targets unless there is sustainable, cost effective financing from the developed countries and other multilateral and philanthropic institutions.

Furthermore, a transition to a low emissions economy and a climate resilient society must be based on just principles. The wellbeing of workers and communities in the transition is an absolute non-negotiable.

Vulnerable workers and communities across the globe who bear no responsibility for the historical accumulation of carbon emissions, must be protected against the risks, and benefit from the opportunities presented by this transition, so no one is left behind.

Although countries have committed to open and transparent discussions, and have shown a willingness for a successful COP, the greatest challenge is expected to be finance issues where huge differences exist between developed and developing countries on the finance required for developing and least developed countries to meet the challenges posed by climate change. 

One of the elements of the Paris Agreement is Article 2.1.c which requires all parties to make financial flows consistent with a pathway towards low greenhouse gas emissions and climate resilient development.

What is striking is that we have as yet no common global understanding or guidelines to implement Article 2.1.c.  These issues together with the future of long-term climate finance deliberations under the convention will be a make or break for COP 26, as was the case in Madrid at COP25 in 2019.

Accordingly, COP 26 must re-establish trust between developed and developing nations by ensuring existing financing commitments are honoured.

Equally important is to start the process for determining a new and more ambitious post 2025 finance mobilisation goal from developed countries for developing countries from a floor of US$ 100 billion per year.

At the Ministerial Meeting hosted by the COP President in the United Kingdom in July this year, South Africa suggested that climate finance should reach USD 750 billion a year by 2030. 

Interestingly, the Blackrock Investment Institute estimates in its latest publication that emerging markets, which are starved of capital to successfully transition to net-zero, will need at least US$1 trillion per year to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050 –more than six times current investment.

According to the report, a much larger amount of public money needs to be directed from countries that can afford it to those whose green transition is critical, but underfunded, given the collective interest in a successful transition and a shrinking window of time to act. 

This public sector contribution will, the report argues, assist in de-risking investment by the private sector in emerging market transitions.

Our country will therefore join others on the continent in calling for a common definition of climate finance, and accounting modalities as well as realistic, predictable and ambitious support which is equally balanced between financing for adaptation and mitigation. Climate finance instruments must include the right mix of grants, concessional loans and private investment that does not exacerbate or contribute to the debt burdens of developing countries.

South Africa is among the many vulnerable developing countries that are already experiencing the impacts of climate change.  This is evident from the increased frequency of extreme weather conditions, such as floods, droughts and heatwaves that threaten lives, food security, and infrastructure.

It is crucial for South Africa and Africa as whole, to see adaptation treated in a balanced manner at COP 26 and to be on the agenda in Glasgow, and implemented thereafter.    

Adaptation and loss and damage are central to the multilateral climate regime, both under the Convention and under its Paris Agreement. South Africa envisages an outcome at COP26 on adaptation that will enable practical progress, including launching a formal program of work to implement the Global Goal on Adaptation.

In July we suggested a potential way of quantifying the global goal on adaptation, namely to increase the adaptive ability and resilience of the global population to the adverse impacts of climate change by at least 50% by 2030 and by at least 90% by 2050.

This would require focus to be placed on the most vulnerable people and communities in Africa, small island states and least developed countries. This must focus on health and well-being; food and water security; infrastructure and the built environment; and ecosystems and ecosystem services.

Work on voluntary carbon markets under Article 6 of the Paris Agreement needs to be completed.  This should prioritise securing a share of proceeds for predictable financing for adaptation.

South Africa sees a Share of Proceeds (SOP) on both Article 6.4 and internationally transferred mitigation outcomes (ITMOs) under Article 6.2 as a predictable source of funding of adaptation, which would grow as carbon markets grow.   In this regard, environment integrity is key. There should be no double counting of units.

Another issue that requires long-overdue resolution is the setting of common timeframes for NDCs.  South Africa presently has five-year timeframes, which is in line with the Africa position of not locking in low ambition over a long period of time.

The Glasgow outcome should be a package deal that advances the negotiations and all three aspects of the Paris Agreement namely mitigation, adaptation and the means of implementation of climate action. South Africa stands ready to play a constructive role for the success of COP26.

For media inquiries contact:
Albi Modise
083 490 2871