Cape Town - Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment (DEFF) Minister Barbara Creecy, as leader of South Africa’s delegation to COP26, revealed the outcomes of the international climate change talks in Glasgow and elaborated on South Africa’s efforts to address the effects of climate change during a media briefing in Parliament.
“COP26 sets the international community on the right track in addressing the existential challenge of climate change. For the first time the governing bodies of the convention and Paris Agreement have agreed to the importance of supporting developing countries in financing just transition elements of their climate actions, and to support the implementation of just transitions that promote sustainable development and the eradication of poverty, the creation of decent work and quality jobs,” said Creecy.
Creecy said South Africa’s main priorities, mandated by the Cabinet ahead of COP26, were to secure an ambitious and progressive finance and adaptation package to support African and other developing countries, as well as to complete the Paris Agreement work programme.
“The key technical work included setting up carbon markets, an enhanced transparency framework and agreeing on common time-frames for the nationally determined contributions of parties to the Paris Agreement. These overarching objectives have been met,” said Creecy.
Responding to various climate justice protests that were held across the country during COP26 by youth and indigenous communities to have their voices heard on a global scale, Creecy said they ensured two youth representatives of the climate commission were accredited delegates at the conference because they understood the extent of the issue for young people.
Creecy also said a platform was set up to address both the just transition and alignment of financial flows, consistent with a pathway towards a low greenhouse gas emission future and climate resilient development.
After Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe’s comments at the African Energy Week conference in Cape Town last week – that the government would not abandon coal in favour of renewable energy at the cost of economic growth – Creecy said: “The point here is about whose responsibility is it to do more? Is it the developed countries that have used the carbon budgets of the world for their development or is it the developing countries – we’ve all got to do our bit, but who needs to do more? This, I think, goes right to the heart of the climate justice issue.”
While this was taking place, the country’s heavy reliance on the coal industry came to light again with a landmark constitutional litigation, #CancelCoal court case, launched by youth-based African Climate Alliance
(ACA), the Vukani Environmental Justice Movement in Action (VEM) and groundWork (gW), represented by the Centre for Environmental Rights (CER), against the Minister of Energy and the National Energy Regulator of South Africa (Nersa) at the North Gauteng High Court, demanding the abandonment of plans to build 1 500MW of new coal-fired power.
“The burning of coal is the biggest contributor to global climate change, in addition to unacceptable health impacts caused by air and water pollution. Plans to build 1 500MW of new coal-fired power are costly, unnecessary and an unjustified limitation of the Section 24 right to an environment not harmful to health and well-being, along with other rights, and should be abandoned,” said the CER.