After slow progress SA races the clock for COP billions plan by November

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  • SA's historic $8.5 billion Just Energy Transition Partnership (JetP) is racing against the clock to make progress.
  • So far there has been little agreement on financing terms and costs.
  • UK climate envoy and COP26 president Alok Sharma wants to see progress by November.

The Just Energy Transition Partnership (JetP) – which pledged $8.5 billion (around R136 billion) towards SA's transition to a lower-carbon economy last November at the COP26 global summit – released its six-month report on Tuesday, outlining steps so far taken to assist SA to reach its ambitious mitigation goals. 

Alok Sharma, the president of COP26 and a minister in the UK cabinet, met with a delegation of eight SA cabinet members on Tuesday to reflect on progress and discuss financing mechanisms and the investment plan that SA is preparing. 

The deal struck last November entailed a commitment by the International Partners Group – the UK, France, Germany, the US and the EU – for $8.5 billion in concessional funding to assist SA's transition to cleaner technologies. But progress has been slow, with the six-month report emerging with none of the terms and costs of the financing agreed upon or an agreement on which projects are to be financed.

In a joint statement issued on Tuesday, Sharma and SA ministers said they welcomed the progress made thus far in advancing this long-term partnership. They continued discussions on the financing instruments to be provided, with a view to ensuring that the partnership meets the country’s investment needs and aligns with its fiscal framework.

The next important step is progress on the proposed investment plan, which will detail the projects that the SA government hopes will attract funding.  At a separate briefing on Tuesday, Sharma explained that the international partners group would select projects in the plan to which funding will be deployed on the basis of robust engagement.

READ| Q&A with Daniel Mminele on COP billions: When will the first money start to flow?

The joint statement noted that progress has been made towards the creation of an enabling policy environment to support South Africa’s decarbonisation ambitions, including the tabling of a Climate Change Bill in Parliament; reforms in the electricity sector; the finalisation of a Hydrogen Economy Roadmap and the Renewable Energy Masterplan; and the development of a just transition framework through the Presidential Climate Commission. 

It also describes the structures set up for the partnership, including the appointment of an independent technical secretariat and the imminent establishment of working groups on the electricity, green hydrogen and transport sectors, as well as finance and implementation modalities. 

The report also "confirms the commitment of the partners to finalise a comprehensive Investment Plan as well as to continue discussions regarding the financing package to enable meaningful progress by COP27".

COP27 is scheduled for November this year. 

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