​Implementing the Paris climate agreement calls for big money

South Africa is confident that the upcoming COP22 will foster collaborative efforts to catalyse pre-2020 action. (Reuters)

South Africa is confident that the upcoming COP22 will foster collaborative efforts to catalyse pre-2020 action. (Reuters)

Before the 22nd Conference of the Parties (COP22) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change that will take place in Morocco in November, a pre-COP ministerial meeting was held this week.

With the 55% threshold now reached by the parties, paving the way for the early implementation of the Paris Agreement, this high-level ministerial dialogue paid particular attention to the issue of finance.

Parties discussed inter alia the importance of mobilising ways to implement climate action in both the pre-2020 and post-2020 periods.

The Paris Agreement commits developed countries to provide $100-billion a year by 2020 and scaling that up in 2025.

The reality is that developing countries can only scale up their climate action efforts with significant investment. South Africa has emphasised the need to bring governments and nonstate actors together to discuss how to provide additional contributions to help to build up resilience to climate change and to transition to low-carbon societies.

Despite facing the triple challenge of poverty, unemployment and inequality, and facing many resource and capacity constraints, South Africa is doing its fair share in contributing to the global effort to fight climate change.

Our national response policy prioritises climate change actions that have both significant mitigation and adaptation benefits, and that contribute to economic growth, job creation and poverty eradication.

To do this, we require billions of dollars in additional investment that we simply cannot mobilise on our own.
We would like to scale up current efforts in green economy, renewable energy, green transport and the like, but this requires significant investment that we can only achieve with support.

There is furthermore a need to scale up funding at a global level, and parties need to help each other with skills development and in building up capacity.

Then there is the central question of how to secure funding for adaptation. Like many other countries on the continent, South Africa is semi-arid with less than 5% of annual rainfall available to recharge our groundwater aquifers.

In a changing climate, our existing water-related problems are exacerbated. If one considers the drought we are currently experiencing, that has led to many of our major rivers running dry and our dams half-full, it is easy to imagine how this has extremely dire consequences for every aspect of our economy and society, especially in relation to food security.

Therefore, significant investment is required to change the way that we use and manage scarce and fragile water resources. This is very important because adaptation is always in danger of being pushed off the international climate change agenda.

We need to look seriously at ways of doubling adaptation financing in the pre-2020 period.

The means of implementation are critical if we are to meet the long-term objectives of the Paris Agreement.

In this regard, non-party stakeholders, especially business, need to do more to support and advance global climate action.

It is immensely encouraging that, less than a year after its adoption at the closing of COP21, the ratification of the Paris Agreement has taken place with such speed.

South Africa is in the final stages of ratification, following our domestic procedures. The task before the parties is to build on and strengthen this momentum.

South Africa is confident that the upcoming COP22 will do this and foster collaborative efforts to catalyse pre-2020 action.

Edna Molewa is the minister of environmental affairs.

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