PLEDGES WITH PROBLEMS
Financing and increased adaptation ‘central to South Africa’s negotiating position’ at COP28
Adequate and fitting climate financing that is quantified according to need, in order to implement adaptation and mitigation, will be a key negotiating point for South Africa going into the COP28 global climate talks in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, in November and December, said Maesela Kekane, chief negotiator, at the national stakeholder gathering on Thursday.
‘As you know, there’s been pledges since 2009 of about $100-billion from developed countries to developing countries, and that pledge has not yet been fulfilled. So it is quite important that we receive a presentation on that to see what’s really going on there. We are also negotiating a new goal on financing; the $100-billion expires next year,” said Maesela Kekana, South Africa’s chief negotiator to COP28.
“By 2025 we should have concluded the negotiations for a new goal. Our new goal needs to be based on the needs of developing countries, because the $100-billion goal just dropped from the sky, and is completely inadequate for our needs. So that negotiation is really important.”
At COP15, developed nations pledged $100-billion per year to developing nations to shield themselves against the impacts of the climate crisis, as well as lower their greenhouse gas emissions.
This commitment has barely been met over the years, with an Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development study finding that developed nations had fallen short of their climate finance pledge, coming closest to it only in 2020 at $83.3-billion. It also found that most of the funding was directed at mitigation efforts, with very little allocated to adaptation development.
Developing countries need climate financing now more than ever as extreme temperatures continue to usher in devastating disasters that have hit those nations the worst. This has resulted in many losing not only their lives but livelihoods as well, and governments not having the means to compensate those affected.
Acknowledging the special circumstances of the African continent will be an important step in upholding the principle of differentiated responsibility.
At COP27 in Egypt, countries adopted a position to set up a loss and damage fund to address the impact of climate disasters. But the agreement did not finalise the technicalities of this or what form the financing would take.
“At the past three COPs the South African delegation has joined delegations from other developing countries in calling for a clear adaptation work programme with clear targets for building the resilience of developing countries and clear financial mechanisms to achieve this. To date there has been little or no progress on this matter,” said Environment Minister Barbara Creecy.
Kekana also said the Africa group, under which South Africa negotiates, sought to double the financing for adaptation but that the request was rejected. The country would seek to have this agenda pushed forward. He added that the country also wanted to ensure that there was universal access to multilateral hazard early warning systems.
Read more in Daily Maverick: COP27 makes history with agreement on ‘loss and damage’ fund for vulnerable countries impacted by climate change
South Africa and the African continent especially need adaptation funding in light of the continent heating at a faster rate compared with the rest of the world. This is why the African group has continuously pledged to include special needs and circumstances on the negotiation agenda; a plea that has consistently been rejected over the years.
“Acknowledging the special circumstances of the African continent will be an important step in upholding the principle of differentiated responsibility, and would recognise the continent’s vulnerability to climate change, but also the need for mitigation and adaptation support,” said Creecy.
Mitigation efforts to lower emissions in the country have mostly been in the form of the Just Energy Transition, which was announced at COP26 in Glasgow, Scotland. The just transition, however, will not be a central discussion point, but rather a discussion on the sidelines of COP28. Thus far, the country has secured $676-million in grants from wealthier nations for its transition – more than double what was promised. However, this still falls short of the required R1.5-trillion over the next five years to achieve the transition.
Read more in Daily Maverick: Funding a greener future – Ramaphosa outlines South Africa’s R1.5 trillion three-step energy transition plan
While steps have been taken in acknowledging and addressing the climate crisis, science and evidence in the form of climate disasters have shown time and again that the goals set out in the Paris Agreement – ensuring that global average temperatures don’t surpass 1.5°C – continue to slip away. A true measure of this will be set out at COP28 where the first Global Stocktake (GST) will be completed. The GST will also help inform countries about what measures need to be taken into account when laying out their plans to reduce emissions.
“We already know we are not on track, based on the detailed evidence presented by parties and other stakeholders during the technical dialogues of the GST over the last year. The outcome of the GST will be the central outcome of COP28, and this outcome must increase collective action on mitigation, adaptation, loss and damage and the provision of support to developing countries to achieve this, commensurate with the challenges we face,” the minister said.
Although South Africa has set ambitious targets for emissions reductions, the country’s efforts alone would not be sufficient to shield against the impact of the climate crisis; hence global cooperation and solidarity are key to achieving a just climate agenda.
Said Kekana: “The issues of providing resources to middle-income countries such as South Africa, to do their own action, is also important and the issues of providing resources for least-developed countries, the small island developing states, to deal with these losses and damages and build resilience and adaptive capacity, are quite critical. So, 28 will be very important to all of us. We need to see massively quantified long-term goals around finance… and a clear roadmap of the implementation of finance.” DM