/ 16 February 2024

Creecy: Climate change fund will help safeguard infrastructure

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Minister of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment Barbara Creecy. Photo: OJ Koloti/Gallo Images

The climate change response fund announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa last week during his State of the Nation address would help protect infrastructure from climate-related damage, Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment Minister Barbara Creecy said.

Creecy told the Presidential Climate Commission’s quarterly meeting on Friday that the aim of the fund was not only to mitigate loss and damage caused by climate events, such as wildfires and flooding, but also to bolster resilience against them.

Last week, Ramaphosa said the fund was a collaborative effort between the government and the private sector to combat the increasingly devastating effects of the climate crisis.

“In recent years, the country has had to confront the effects of climate change. We have had devastating wildfires in the Western Cape, destructive floods in KwaZulu-Natal, unbearable heat waves in the Northern Cape, persistent drought in the Eastern Cape and intense storms in Gauteng,” he said.

On Friday, Creecy said the fund would, among other things, be used to restore bridges and roads damaged by extreme weather. 

She said it would be supported by either the Development Bank of Southern Africa or the Industrial Development Corporation and would function similarly to the Covid-19 fund

Addressing concerns that the fund would be looted, as the Covid-19 one was, Creecy said the Presidential Climate Commission would implement adequate structures to manage the money.

“I do not think this climate commission is going to sit here and allow all other things to happen and say nothing. The difficulty you had during the Covid-19 time is that there was no organised oversight. Where we are is a different situation,” Creecy said.

She added: “We need to set this up with adequate oversight and adequate access. If I give R1 to the fund, will it go to deal with climate or will somebody eat it? People would want to know it is independently administered, there is proper due diligence, and money will be used for the purposes for which it is collected.”

The creation of the fund comes after scientists reported that 2023 was the hottest year on record, attributing rising global temperatures and the El Niño weather pattern to carbon dioxide emissions.

Creecy commended South Africa for its role in setting up the Just Energy Transition Partnership, under which France, Germany, the UK, the US and the EU have pledged $8.5 billion to help the country transition to cleaner energy sources.

South Africa’s work on the fund presented an opportunity to create a model for adaptation financing that would be useful internationally, Creecy said.