Investment and funding for South Africa to decarbonise its footprint will be top of mind for the South African delegation heading to COP28 UN climate summit, being hosted by United Arab Emirates at the end of week.
President Cyril Ramaphosa is expected to be leading the South African delegation, with minister Barbara Creecy and her colleagues from the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment driving the agenda.
Apart from consolidating the Just Energy Transition Investment Partnership (JET-IP) investment, the delegation will be looking to drive momentum on global commitments to support African countries in managing climate risks, including a loss and damage fund to support the most vulnerable countries facing climate disasters and a clearer investment framework to fund adaptation investments across the continent.
In 2022 the World Bank put the estimated total investments needed for South Africa’s pathways to net zero at $500 billion (R9.3 trillion) by 2050.
The Presidential Climate Commission (PCC) yesterday reiterated that countries and parties must reach consensus to operationalise the Loss & Damage Fund, a fund established to cope with the aftermath of extreme weather events.
The PCC, an independent body established by Ramaphosa to oversee and facilitate a just and equitable transition, also called for funding arrangements with finance that were new, additional, predictable, accessible, adequate and rapid.
PCC spokesperson Blessing Manale said wealthy nations would need to dramatically scale up finance to support climate-vulnerable countries in withstanding and recovering from climate-driven floods, droughts, heatwaves and more-given the global economic consequences of these impacts.
Busisiwe Mavuso, the CEO of Business Leadership South Africa, said yesterday, in a weekly newsletter, the climate was becoming the single most important global economic concern.
"This year has been the hottest ever and climate disasters have accelerated. There are many data points showing this, such as that the United States has already recorded more $1 billion disasters this year than ever before while, locally, several temperature records have been broken this year. The need for global coordinated action has never been more obvious," Mavuso said.
BLSA said that was why COP28, which starts this week in Dubai, would be a very important event, especially for South Africa.
"We are a unique country-vulnerable to climate change given our water scarcity and ecology, and yet largely still economically dependent on coal and other fossil fuels. We must transition our economy but do it in a way that ensures justice for those whose jobs and livelihoods are at risk in a transition."
Mavuso said there was global goodwill in supporting South Africa’s transition.
"COP28 will be an important opportunity for us as a country to develop this goodwill and translate it into flows of investment to fund the infrastructure needed to transition our economy," she said.
She said the JET-IP, first tabled at COP two years ago, envisages $8.5bn (R160bn) of investment support from the biggest economies for South Africa’s transition.
"That vision has to be turned into reality in Dubai, with a practical implementation plan that can catalyse investment across the economy. However, we must be careful not to be overly focused on the JET-IP as if it can solve all problems – the $8.5bn is only a small part of the total investment needed.
“Indeed, the delegation representing South Africa last week told parliament that an estimated $26bn-$41bn is needed every year for Africa alone to implement adaptation actions. The JET-IP must be catalytic in mobilising investment by de-risking projects for normal commercial capital to be able to invest."