Africa's special needs have been kept alive at Cop26

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With a number of the COP26 decisions, known as the Glasgow Pact, clearly made based on a compromise from some participating countries, COP27 is expected to be even more intensive. Photo: File
With a number of the COP26 decisions, known as the Glasgow Pact, clearly made based on a compromise from some participating countries, COP27 is expected to be even more intensive. Photo: File


Some Africa-specific climate crisis-related issues that could not be finalised or included in the 26th Conference of the Parties (COP26) agenda in Glasgow, Scotland, earlier this month are expected to be back on the table when the global climate summit takes place in Sharm el-Sheikh in Egypt next year.

These topics include what Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment Minister Barbara Creecy called the “unresolved issue of the recognition of Africa’s special needs and circumstances”, which she said had been “kept alive for substantive discussion at the African COP27”.

With a number of the COP26 decisions, known as the Glasgow Pact, clearly made based on a compromise from some participating countries, COP27 is expected to be even more intensive.

Meanwhile, the South African delegation feels that the two weeks spent in Glasgow were worth it.

“We came to this conference with a clear mandate. The first things we wanted to achieve were securing an ambitious finance package, an adaptation or resilience-building package and the completion of the Paris Agreement work programme, which included issues that have not yet been concluded,” said chief South African negotiator at COP26 Maesela Kekana.

READ: Haggling over coal, fossil fuels and finance stretches COP26

“Those issues are about carbon trading, the enhanced transparency framework and the common time frames for implementation of our nationally determined contributions.

“We’re happy with the outcomes. In essence, we’ve restored trust among parties through a balanced set of outcomes on mitigation and finance. As the African group, we’ve also finally managed to launch a work programme towards the global goal of adaptation. This is an issue on which we’ve been negotiating for the past six years, with our partners not really budging on it, but we finally managed to put it squarely on the agenda at the conference.”

Creecy agreed that progress on issues of climate change had been made in Glasgow.

She said: 

The complex Glasgow package outcome strikes the right balance to accommodate the very different national circumstances and capacities of nearly 200 parties, so that all are enabled and empowered to contribute their fair share and enhance their climate ambitions.

“COP26 set the international community on the right track towards addressing the existential challenge of climate change. For the first time, the governing bodies of the convention and the Paris Agreement agreed on the importance of supporting developing countries in financing just transition elements of their climate actions, [as well as] the implementation of just transitions that promote sustainable development, the eradication of poverty and the creation of decent work and quality jobs,” said Creecy.

The Paris Agreement is an international treaty on climate change that was adopted at COP21 in Paris, France, in 2015. It covers the burning issues of mitigation, adaptation and finance.

In the same treaty, a major commitment was made by wealthy nations to mobilise $100 billion (R1.5 trillion) annually to help poorer countries tackle the worsening climate crisis.

This was one of the issues that all developing countries at COP26 were determined to discuss, as the commitment has not been honoured.

Kekana said the delegates had also “deliberated, agreed on or initiated a discussion about the new collective goal of climate finance – and this discussion will run until 2025”.

READ: Sibusiso Mazomba: You cannot divorce climate crisis from social justice and socioeconomic issues

“Currently, the finance goal we have is providing $100 billion per year from 2020 to 2025, but we all agreed that this was not enough. We need to negotiate a new goal and conclude that discussion in 2025.

“We also managed to secure financing for the least-developed countries and pledges for the adaptation fund, as well as increasing climate finance for the global environment fund. In our view, those were good outcomes,” he said.

“But, most importantly, the private sector has been waiting for us to conclude discussions on carbon trading, or what we call article 6, and we managed to do that.

“We also managed to conclude the issue of common time frames for the implementation of our nationally determined contribution and, finally, the issue of enhanced transparency framework. In essence, the Paris Agreement work programme was concluded in Glasgow.”

Kekana said: 

New issues had emanated from COP26, including lowering the targeted global temperature rise to 1.5°C, rather than the 2°C that had been agreed on in the Paris Agreement.

“This really required all of us to think together and we agreed to establish an annual mitigation ambition work programme, coupled with a ministerial round table to assess progress on implementation of the global temperature goal,” he said.

Kekana further confirmed that South Africa had supported the 11th-hour change of language of what had initially been agreed on as the “phasing out” of coal to the “phasing down” of coal, as part of the country’s transition to clean energy.

“The way the issue had originally been framed was not in line with the principles of the convention, such as equity and common differentiated approaches, as well as issues of climate justice.

“Ultimately, we managed to find consensus regarding that issue and we agreed that it was important to phase down coal, while taking into account national circumstances and [the need to support] developing countries and just transitions. In our view, that issue was concluded successfully,” Kekana said.

“It respected the boundaries of the convention and the Paris Agreement. Overall, we believe that this outcome put us on a good path towards a successful African COP in 2022 in Egypt.”


Poloko Tau 


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