SA scores R131 billion in major boost to move from coal

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Climate activists dressed as world leaders take part in a media event during the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow, Scotland on November 2.Photo: Reuters/Russell Cheyne
Climate activists dressed as world leaders take part in a media event during the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow, Scotland on November 2.Photo: Reuters/Russell Cheyne


South Africa’s plans to move from coal and other polluting industries to a low-carbon economy have received a major boost in the form of a partnership with Germany, France, the UK and the US.

The partnership, which was announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa on Tuesday, will see the partner countries support South Africa’s just transition to a low-carbon economy and a climate crisis-resistant society.

The announcement came as the partner countries were meeting at COP26, which is currently underway in Glasgow, Scotland.

A just transition is just one of the many issues being discussed in a united global bid to suffocate the climate crisis.

READ: World leaders under pressure at COP26 to put their previous commitments and pledges into action

A just transition includes, among other things, the phasing out of coal-fired power stations without leaving jobless the workers who have been making their livelihoods out of the polluting industry.

According to a political declaration issued today by the presidency to cement the partnership:

Partner countries will mobilise an initial $8.5 billion (R131 billion) over the next three to five years through a range of instruments, including grants and concessional finance, to support the implementation of our revised NDC [nationally determined contribution – the country’s plans towards climate crisis targets on reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, clear policies and measures to be implemented with just transition in mind] through a just transition to a low carbon and climate resilient economy.

“The highly concessional finance that will be mobilised through this partnership will accelerate investment in renewable energy and the development of new sectors such as electric vehicles and green hydrogen. This will provide a significant boost to investment and growth while ensuring Eskom can access resources to finance repurposing of coal-fired power stations due for decommissioning over the next 15 years,” the statement read.

Welcoming this partnership, Ramaphosa said:

Climate change is an existential challenge that confronts us all, and South Africa is committed to playing its part in reducing global emissions. The partnership that we have established today is a watershed moment, not only for our own just transition, but for the world as a whole. It is proof that we can take ambitious climate action while increasing our energy security, creating jobs and harnessing new opportunities for investment, with support from developed economies.

UK prime minister Boris Johnson said in a speech at COP26 on Monday: “As we look at the green industrial revolution that is now needed around the world, we in the developed world must recognise the special responsibility we have to help everybody else do it. The task now is to work together to help our friends decarbonise using our funds”.

The next day, he welcomed the partnership towards helping South Africa.

“This game-changing partnership will set a precedent for how countries can work together to accelerate the transition to clean, green energy and technology. Moving away from coal is essential if we are to meet our target of limiting global warming to 1.5°C. President Ramaphosa has shown real leadership on this issue, and the UK is committed to working with South Africa and our partners to support a just and fair transition to renewable energy,” Johnson said.

READ: Countries fiddle as the planet burns

US President Joe Biden said on Tuesday: “Right now, South Africa is the largest emitter in Africa due in large part to the heavy reliance on coal for power. By closing South African coal plants ahead of schedule and investing in clean power alternatives for the people of South Africa, and supporting an equitable and inclusive transition in South Africa’s coal sector, we are following through on the pledge the G7 partners made in Cornwall to accelerate the transition away from coal in developing countries.”

French President Emmanuel Macron said the new partnership “mobilises very significant support for South Africa’s ambitious decarbonisation project for a just energy transition”.

It will benefit from the long-standing cooperation between France and South Africa through the work of the [French Development Agency]. And we hope it will set the standard for other such partnerships in the future. France stands ready.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said her country was “committed to supporting both the decarbonisation of South Africa’s electricity production and the development of new economic opportunities for affected communities.”

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said the partnership was “a global first and could become a template on how to support just transition around the world.

“By joining forces, we can speed up the phasing out of coal in partner countries, while supporting vulnerable communities that depend on it. Ensuring a just transition is a priority for the EU, both at home and abroad.”


Poloko Tau 


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