It’s the eve of the COP27 meeting, which is set to kick off in Egypt on Monday, 7th November. The Conference of the Parties was spearheaded by the United Nations for global players to work together to combat climate change.
Experts in the climate change field say the stakes at the next COP meeting are extremely high. They (experts) believe future civilization literally depends on it.
President Cyril Ramaphosa will lead the South African government delegation to the COP meetings in Egypt.
Speaking at a special virtual meeting with the Presidential Climate Commission on Friday, he said South Africa’s key emphasis at the meeting will be that any transition from old energies to new and greener ones must be a just one.
He noted that the $8.5 billion just energy transition investment plan, funded by the United States and several European countries, had been approved by the Cabinet. The plan is to be released soon for public consultation.
President Ramaphosa says this transition will help create jobs.
“As we navigate our way through this transition, we create jobs, new jobs, new sectors that are going to have to accompany our transition as we move forward. But also this must be based on our key objective of ensuring that there is inclusive economic growth in our country.”
All the discussions and resolutions that will take place at COP27, as with previous meetings will need to be funded. The financial sector will be keenly watching out for the financial solutions that will be put on the table.
Standard Bank CEO, Sim Tshabalala, says it’s imperative that Africa, which has suffered the harsh consequences of climate change, while barely being responsible for it, should make its voice heard at this year’s meeting.
He says the transition to net zero shouldn’t leave anyone behind.
“Number one to be in support of the South African government and a number of African government’s clear position on the just transition. They need to make sure that communities are not left behind, that workers are looked after as we transition. Secondly, that the African voice be heard clearly around the financing of both the transitioning from where we are now to net zero and making sure that there is adequate adaptation; mitigation on the one hand and adaptation at the same time. Thirdly, to make sure that Africa’s voice is heard that the international community owes Africa funding, which had been committed to.”
COP 27 presents an opportunity to highlight African issues:
Presidential Climate Commission’s Executive Director, Dr Crispian Olver, says that the world is not on track in reaching the goal of global temperatures rising by 1.5 degrees from pre-industrial levels. On the current trajectory, he says they’re set to breach two degrees and more.
There’s a warning that the world cannot afford to ponder on the issue of how to deal with climate change.
“We’ve already warmed 1.1 degrees and you can see the way that the climate is physically changing. We’re having much more severe weather events. I mean the floods in KZN were a classic example of the kind of flood disasters and extreme weather events we’re going to be facing. We’re going to have heat and drought. I mean you’re already seeing a prolonged drought in the southern cape and Nelson Mandela Bay Gqeberha has been facing a day zero crisis this year and these kinds of events are going to increase in frequency,” says Dr Olver.
Political will to deal with climate change
One prominent climate activist, Kumi Naidoo, lamented that developed countries had failed to come to the party by not stumping up the 100 billion dollars a year they’d promised to make available from 2020 for poorer countries to mitigate and adapt to climate change.
He says world leaders are not showing the same political will to deal with climate change that they’ve shown with their reaction to the Russian/Ukraine war, for instance, where there’s been little hesitation to mobilize billions of dollars to fund Ukraine’s defence.
This is despite the fact that climate change issues could result in the actual demise of the world and its people.
“What’s happening there is a tragedy in Ukraine, but climate change is a tragedy that’s going to wipe us out at the rate that we’re going. Why can’t our policymakers and political leaders get it into their head that they need to act with the same kind of urgency and, by the way, Covid showed us that when we follow what the science says even though it was painful, we can actually prevent a bigger problem,” adds Naidoo.
Climate change activists say African countries must push for the concept of “loss and damage” at the conference. This speaks to the infrastructural and broader socio-economic damage brought on by climate change events, which they say richer nations, who are responsible for the same, should pay for.
There are worries that the current Russia/Ukraine war and the expected impending global recession, brought on by higher interest rates, may serve as a distraction from dealing with climate change mitigation and adaptation, which if not addressed now will risk the world’s very existence.
Expectations from the upcoming COP27 climate change conference: Louise Naude: