Important climate change measures for South Africa get Cabinet nod
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OPINION: South Africa in partnership with the rest of Africa is on the front-line in the global struggle against climate change and is dedicating significant resources to adapt to the reality of an already-changing climate and address consequential loss and damage, writes Barbara Creecy.
South Africa’s efforts to address the effects of climate change on people and the economy in a manner which leaves no one behind, recently received a firm nod from Cabinet.
The meeting approved the revised Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC), the Climate Bill and South Africa’s negotiating position for COP-26. 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.
As a developing country, South Africa is committed to contributing its fair share towards a global low-emissions, climate resilient economy and society by mid-century. We recognise the consequences of climate change will be catastrophic for the world, and for South Africa, in particular, without global ambitious action to reduce emissions, and address adaptation.
The latest science makes it clear that in order to prevent these catastrophic consequences, an accelerated shift to a low-emissions society is required.
South Africa in partnership with the rest of Africa is on the front-line in the global struggle against climate change and is dedicating significant resources to adapt to the reality of an already-changing climate and address consequential loss and damage.
Our updated Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC), was deposited with the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) recently. The submission of the updated NDC follows widespread consultation with business, organised labour, government, civil society and the Climate Commission.
South Africa has set an ambitious Nationally Determined Contribution of 420- 350 Mt CO2-eq which is compatible with Paris Agreement goals. However, to achieve such an ambitious target, developed countries must meet their financing commitments made under the UNFCCC and reaffirmed in the Paris Agreement adopted at COP 21.
In the past decade developed countries have not kept to the level of commitments on climate finance, enshrined in the Paris Agreement. In particular there has been minimal assistance to emerging economies in this regard. Accordingly, we need certainty and predictability of the quantum of financing available to us, to embark on our Just Transition.
The Presidential Climate Commission appointed in February, is tasked with bringing together the government, private sector, organised labour and civil society to advise the government on just transition pathways that will ensure our transition to a lower carbon economy that will open up new opportunities for inclusive local industrialisation and growth, job creation and re-skilling.
Fundamental to the commission’s mandate is ensuring that those most vulnerable to the consequences of the transition, particularly workers and communities in the coal value chain, are not left behind.
Cabinet has also adopted the long-awaited Climate Change Bill, an important step in the development of our country’s architecture to manage and combat climate change. The bill, which will soon be tabled in Parliament, spells out that all adaptation and mitigation efforts should be based on the best available science, evidence and information. It further gives effect to South Africa’s international commitments and obligations in relation to climate change, and defines the steps to be taken to protect and preserve the planet for the benefit of present and future generations.
The bill sets in place a mechanism to co-ordinate the government response to the effective management of climate change impacts. Through the national adaptation response, we will strengthen resilience and reduce vulnerability to climate change.
With regard to our country’s negotiating mandate for COP-26, South Africa is fully committed to a collective, multilateral approach to addressing the global challenge of climate change, with the UNFCCC at its centre.
Our position on resource mobilisation is to secure new commitments of support by developed countries for implementation by developing countries, addressing both mitigation and adaptation. We need the COP to provide clarity on and commence the process for determining a new and more ambitious goal for long-term finance, increasing beyond the $100 billion (R1 498bn) per year from 2025.
As already explained, South Africa, and many other developing countries, require the means of implementation for its adaptation and mitigation actions. This funding could come from a wide variety of sources, public and private, bilateral and multilateral, including alternative sources of finance.
With regard to adaptation, COP-26 should deliver an outcome that will enable practical progress, including launching a formal programme of work on the operationalisation of the Global Goal on Adaptation. The position that we will be taking to COP on the adaptation global goal is that we should aim to increase the resilience of the global population to climate change by at least 50% and reduce the global populations that are impacted by the adverse effects of climate change by at least 50%, by 2030 and by at least 90% by 2050.
It is particularly important that developed countries show leadership and come forward with massively enhanced support to developing countries, particularly at this time when sustainable development has been set back decades by the Covid-19 pandemic.
* Creecy is Minister of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment.
** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of IOL and Independent Media.