/ 28 October 2021

SA proposes new climate finance target ahead of COP26

Environmental Affairs Minister Barbra Creecy Photo Delwyn Verasamy
Barbara Creecy, Minister of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment. (Photo: Delwyn Verasamy/M&G)

South Africa has put a new climate finance target on the table ahead of the United Nations climate talks, COP26, in Glasgow, Scotland. 

Environment, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Barbara Creecy has said that during the ministerial meeting hosted by the COP26 president in the United Kingdom in July this year, South Africa suggested that climate finance should reach $750-billion a year by 2030.

“In July we suggested a potential way of quantifying the global goal on adaptation, namely to increase the adaptive ability and resilience of the global population to the adverse impacts of climate change by at least 50% by 2030 and by at least 90% by 2050,” Creecy told a briefing last week.

South Africa recently held meetings with climate envoys from the United Kingdom and European Union. They visited South Africa last month to discuss the country’s move away from coal. 

Creecy said South Africa would garner support for the new target to be adopted at COP26, when the meetings get underway on 31 October in Glasgow. She said the country was looking for the best possible deal. 

“Climate finance instruments must include the right mix of grants, concessional loans and private investment that does not exacerbate or contribute to the debt burdens of developing countries,” she said.

One element of the 2015 Paris Agreement requires all parties to make financial flows consistent with plans to reduce low greenhouse gas emissions and increase climate resilience.

“What is striking is that we have, as yet, no common global understanding or guidelines to implement Article 2.1(c),” said Creecy. “These issues, together with the future of long-term climate finance deliberations under the convention, will be a make or break for COP26, as was the case in Madrid at COP25 in 2019.

“Accordingly, COP26 must re-establish trust between developed and developing nations by ensuring existing financing commitments are honoured.”

She said this applies to the commitment of $100-billion a year between 2020 and 2025, which the world’s wealthiest countries and biggest polluters are failing to meet.

A recent Oxfam report found that poorer nations are expected to face a $75-billion shortfall in climate finance over the six-year target period, despite being the least responsible for climate change and suffering the worst effects of it. 

Oxfam’s findings show that, based on current pledges and plans, wealthy governments will continue to miss the goal and reach only $93-billion to $95-billion a year by 2025 — five years after the goal should have been met.

It cited the UN Environment Programme’s annual adaptation estimate costs in developing countries, which are expected to reach $140-billion to $300-billion a year by 2030, and $280-billion to $500-billion by 2050.

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has also released new data showing that the $100-billion finance goal pledged by developed nations to support climate action in Paris- in 2015 will only be reached in 2023. 

The OECD said the annual goal for developed countries to provide and mobilise $100-billion of climate finance a year for climate action in developing countries was to have been met in 2020 and to be sustained until 2025.

“The last OECD assessment of progress, released in September, showed that climate finance provided and mobilised by developed countries totalled USD 79.6 billion in 2019, up only 2% from 2018. The $100-billion mark is unlikely to have been met in 2020, although the necessary verified data needed to finalise this determination officially will not be available before 2022,” the OECD said. 

In its latest Playbook for Climate Finance report, the global environmental NGO Nature Conservancy said a key challenge is that climate finance is hard to measure, and not subject to a common universal definition.

“However, recent research suggests loans make up the bulk of climate finance at 96 percent. In fact, by some estimates just 2.3 percent of commitments are grants. This highlights that finance institutions expect a return on their investments —  and want proof of the possibility of a return before making a commitment,” the organisation said.