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South Africa welcomes COP27 outcomes

22 Nov 2022

South Africa welcomes the final outcomes of the Twenty Seventh Session of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Egypt, Sharm El-Sheikh (COP27)

South Africa congratulates the Egyptian COP27 Presidency for successful hosting of the twenty seventh session of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)’s Sharm el-Sheikh Conference of Parties (COP27).

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)’s COP27 Climate Conference opened with the Climate Implementation Summit that was convened by His Excellency Abdel Fattah Saeed Hussein Khalil El-Sisi, President of the Arab Republic of Egypt and attended by over a hundred world leaders.

The Summit provided the political momentum and guidance to the negotiators that contributed towards the success of COP27, including the historic decision to establish a Fund to assist developing countries to respond to Loss and Damage caused by climate change. President Cyril Ramaphosa represented South Africa at the Summit, co-chairing the Summit’s roundtable discussion on Just Transitions and delivering South Africa’s national statement.

President Ramaphosa stressed the need for a fundamental transformation and modernisation of the global financial architecture and reform of the multilateral development banks to make them fit-for-purpose in supporting Sustainable Development and Just Transitions.

President Ramaphosa also met with South Africa’s partners Germany, France, the European Union, the United States of America and the United Kingdom, on the Just Energy Transition Partnership (JETP). He presented South Africa’s JETP-Investment Plan whilst indicating that South Africa will need R1.5 trillion dollars in the next five years for implementation. The money required should be in the form of highly concessional loans and grants.

He also indicated that the government of South Africa will now employ a project manager who will be responsible to implement the JETP-IP as soon as the Presidential Climate Commission concludes its work on stakeholder consultations on the JETP-IP.

The final COP27 outcome reflects the urgency of the climate crisis, and the need to keep the 1.5-degree temperature target alive during what the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) calls the “Critical Decade”, including by providing a clear programme to advance the mitigation agenda from now to 2026.

This agreement on a four-year work programme, consists of at least two global dialogues, and a review at the end of the four years on whether to continue the programme (after 2026). The Mitigation Work Program will cover the IPCC 2006 key emissions sectors and the IPCC WGIII report. There will be an annual decision by the Conference of the Parties to the Paris Agreement (CMA) for the four years.

The agreed text in the all-important Cover Document frames the climate crisis and its solutions in terms of the sustainable development goals and Just Transitions, leaving no one left behind, and the need for broader financial sector reform to achieve these. The call for multilateral consensus on making financial flows consistent with pathways towards low emissions and climate resilient development could open new investment opportunities in Africa for clean energy investments, critical for addressing energy poverty on the continent.

The key milestone agreed to at COP27, was on financial arrangements to address loss and damage due to climate change. COP27 agreed to set up a Fund on loss and damage. It established a Transitional Committee to work on the modalities of this fund with a view of taking a decision at COP28 in 2023.

COP27 also emphasized the need for increased momentum to reform the Multilateral Development Banks and International Financial Institutions and called on the shareholders of these institutions to take decisive action to scale-up climate finance in 2023 and make their institutional arrangements fit for purpose.

There was also agreement amongst Parties to accelerate work on reducing vulnerability of societies due to climate change impacts.  While we must acknowledge that from our national perspective, we did not see the advancement on actually operationalizing the Global Goal on Adaptation, we had been hoping for. In particular South Africa had called for a target to increase the resilience of global population by 50% in 2030.

We had also called for COP27 to establish a framework for Global Goal on Adaptation that contained high level indicators and targets to galvanize collective global action and support. Instead, the outcome focused more on workshops to build understanding in critical sectors such as health, poverty and livelihoods; terrestrial and freshwater ecosystems; oceans and coasts; water resource management; food; cities and settlements; cultural heritage and mountain regions and biodiversity.

South Africa will engage in these discussions with a view to setting up concrete targets and indicators that can help us tract progress on reducing vulnerability of our population. The Presidency’s package on finance, in the context of the failure of developed countries to meet the USD 100 billion goal by 2020, provides incremental progress on moving forward to the establishment of the new collective goal in 2025, but falls short of action to meet developed countries obligations.

COP27 has provided the momentum to reform the Multilateral Development Banks and International Financial institutions and we expected the shareholders of these institutions to take decisive action to scale up climate finance in 2023 and make their institutions fit for purpose.

COP27 also marked the fifth South African Pavilion (partnership between the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment (DFFE) and National Business Initiative), which showcased the collaboration between government and business in the fight against climate change. The South Africa Pavilion provided an excellent platform for business and government to showcase the country’s efforts towards co-creating and implementing a Just Transition to net zero emissions by 2050. More than 50 events were hosted at the Pavilion during COP27.

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Albi Modise
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