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COP28 outcome better for Africa compared with previous meetings – Creecy

COP28 outcome better for Africa compared with previous meetings – Creecy
Environment minister Barbara Creecy. (Photo: Felix Dlangamandla)

In a parliamentary briefing, Minister of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment Barbara Creecy, said that from the perspective of SA and the African group of negotiators, the outcome of COP28 was an improvement on previous years.


Briefing Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Environment, Forestry and Fisheries on the outcomes of last year’s UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) COP28 in Dubai, Minister Barbara Creecy said the continent and country viewed the outcomes as being better than in previous years.

“From the perspective of South Africa and the African group of negotiators, we felt that the outcome of COP28 was better than has been the situation in the past,” said Creecy on Tuesday, 20 February.

Creecy outlined some of the reasons. 

“We began before the formal negotiations with the establishment of the Loss and Damage Fund and the outcome saw a global goal on adaptation, something that South Africa and the African group of negotiators have struggled for for many years.

“You would also see that in the language of the final document, there are a lot of references made to the question of the Just Transition to issues of equity and different responsibilities and capabilities. 

“So I think overall, we were pleased that the outcomes of COP28 reflect the complexities that developing countries face in the climate transition and the difficulties that developing countries face in building climate resilience.”

Read more in Daily Maverick: COP28 scores early win with $260m for climate damages

Creecy recently returned from the 37th African Union summit in Ethiopia.

“I think that there was general acceptance of the decisions of COP28 and I think also there was acceptance and acclaim for the climate summit that President Ruto hosted in Kenya last year before COP28… I think that was a very important event because it helped to change the narrative and to talk about the economic opportunities that exist for the African continent in the process of the green transition.”

Maesela Kekana, the deputy director-general for climate change and air quality management in the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment, provided more details on what South Africa wanted from COP28 and the outcomes. 

Kekana’s slideshow noted that “our overall assessment, in consultation with Dirco and based on feedback from the President, is that South Africa achieved its foreign policy objectives at COP28.”

Read more in Daily Maverick: A mixed bag — COP28 made progress on some key areas while neglecting others

“The most important issue for us overall was the whole issue of a contextualisation and narrative that climate change needs to be fitted squarely within sustainable development and respect the right to development, especially of developing countries who need to choose their own just transition pathways, because we’ve got these shared objectives such as working towards 1.5°C and net zero. 

“It’s quite important that developing countries choose their pathways towards achieving that. That is what climate justice is about.”

Kekana explained that “before we went to COP, we came to this portfolio committee and highlighted… that our expectations were very clear, scaling up adaptation finance and ensuring parity between mitigation and adaptation, having a mitigation work programme that is important for scaling up ambition, but also addressing the issue of resources, particularly delivering $100-billion, operationalisation of the loss and damage [fund], but also delivering Global Stocktake outcomes that consider historical responsibility.”

Global Stocktake

Kekana explained that heading to Dubai, they wanted the Global Stocktake to “provide a comprehensive stocktake assessment for all the goals of the Paris Agreement and this is mitigation, adaptation and finance”.

The UNFCCC explains that the Global Stocktake looks “at everything related to where the world stands on climate action and support, identifying the gaps and working together to agree on solutions pathways”.

In the briefing on Tuesday morning, Kekana said that ahead of COP28, South Africa wanted to ensure the stocktake “should not be used for a new interpretation of the Paris Agreement, but also to have the practice that we saw previously where issues are not discussed, but you find them in the final outcome.

“A key consideration – for us this time around – was this issue of fossil fuel and energy, which of course eventually there were some discussions. That is what we wanted to do.

“The adopted decision of this first Global Stocktake process included key outcomes on finance adaptation and mitigation as we advocated for, not just mitigation, but all the goals… 

“So the Global Stocktake outcome was quite comprehensive and included these new things that were never captured in the COP before,” said Kekana.  

Global Goal on Adaptation (GGA)

Kekana explained that they wanted COP28 to establish a GGA framework with a set of measurable, time-bound and outcome-based targets focused on reducing the adverse impacts and risks of climate change. 

Speaking to the committee, he said they did in fact adopt that framework. 

“It’s called the UAE Framework for Global Climate Resilience. We see this as the most important decision on adaptation since the adoption of the Paris Agreement in 2015.” 

“Prior to that,” the DDG explained, “we launched a two-year work programme that will then define the indicators which will help us in measuring progress towards achieving those targets as agreed during the COP…”

Loss and Damage 

Concerning Loss and Damage, the South African delegation aimed to see the operationalisation of the Loss and Damage fund that was established at the previous COP in 2022 and to ensure that the funds should be separate from finance for adaptation and should not increase the debt burden of developing countries. 

Loss and Damage refers to the damage done by human-induced climate change that occurs beyond the adaptive capacity of countries. These countries are usually the poorest and least developed and have contributed the least to the impacts of which they are today the greatest victims.  

Reflecting on what was achieved, Kekana noted that “we operationalised the fund… the fund itself will have separate resources to those of adaptation. Developed countries will continue to resource the adaptation funds correctly, so we’ll have funds for Adaptation and Loss and Damage dealt in two different places.” 

He added that by the end of the conference, there were pledges of roughly $792-million for the fund, an amount Kekana described as being  “just a fraction of the losses and damages that developing countries are suffering.”

“So it’s a start, but we need to do better.” 

Just Transition work programme 

The South African delegation set out to Dubai to establish a Just Transition Pathways Work Programme that “recognises various stages of transitions and encompasses a whole-of-society and whole-of-economy approach”.

So what was achieved? Kekana explained that “in the end, there was the five-year work programme that was adopted and this will be discussing different just transition pathways”.

“Elements of the Paris Agreement are involved and it will have both a national and international dimension of just transition. The decision goes further to highlight the importance of finance and technology development and transfers, as well as capacity-building support to achieve this just transition, both nationally and globally.” 


Concerning finance, the South African delegation set out to achieve a “step change” on the New Finance Quantified Goal ( and to secure roadmaps for the full delivery of the $100-billion climate finance commitment as well as the doubling of adaptation finance by 2025). 

At COP15 in Copenhagen, developed countries party to the UNFCCC committed to jointly mobilise $100-billion a year by 2020 to address the needs of developing countries. 

There is contention over whether this target was met for the first time in 2023, Kekana explained.   

“When it comes to the hundred billion, there were two different views,” he said, “with developed countries insisting that in 2023 they gave us this money and we disagreed because we haven’t quite seen it. But what we all agreed to is that the decision notes with concern that this was not delivered on time in 2020 in any case.” 

Despite this, they were upbeat about some of the developments to emerge from the conference. 

“New pledges were made to the Green Climate Fund which is very important because this is an existing fund. By the end of the COP, it was sitting at $12.8-billion, making it slightly better than before we went to the COP.

“And, of course, the COP decided on a new finance quantified goal… The COP decided to have that step change.” DM


Absa OBP

Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Michele Rivarola says:

    Spineless, gormless minister interested in protecting her party’s interests above those of the whole country. No guts to stand up to the abuses of the DMRE, deserves to be replaced

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