COP26 chief wants to see SA's investment plans for $8.5bn climate finance deal

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Alok Sharma MP, COP26 President.
Alok Sharma MP, COP26 President.
Photo by Ian Forsyth/Getty Images
  • The terms of an $8.5 billion climate finance deal agreed on last year are still not settled.
  • International partners want detailed investment plans. 
  • On the basis of these investment plans, the funded projects will be selected.

The president of COP26, Alok Sharma - who is in the country to meet with Cabinet ministers - says the essential next step in securing the $8.5 billion (~R136.2 billion) climate finance deal agreed upon last year, is the presentation of detailed investment plans by SA. 

Sharma - who is a minister in the British government, and who is president of COP26 by virtue of the UK's chairpersonship - said that he wants to see concrete progress on the plan by the time COP27 sits in November. He met with a delegation of eight SA Cabinet ministers on Tuesday, including Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy Gwede Mantashe and Minister of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment Barbara Creecy.

The $8.5 billion Just Energy Transition Partnership (JetP) was founded in Glasgow last November and is the first such arrangement of its kind, in which developed countries assist developing countries to transition to a lower-carbon emissions pathway through financial support. It is hoped that it will provide a blueprint for other, similar transitions. 

SA is partnered by the International Partners Group, which includes the UK, US, Germany, France and the EU. 

READ SA's COP26 green billions still some distance away

But progress since Glasgow has been slow, with the parties yet to agree on the form and terms of funding and the institutional mechanisms through which it will flow. Sharma said the composition and terms of funding were not yet decided. 

The JetP has also not determined which projects will be funded through the arrangement. Sharma emphasised that the investment plans would first and foremost be determined by SA. The IPG would then engage "robustly" on the plans presented, he said. 

In its first engagements with the IPG, the SA government said that while it was most likely that the lion's share of JetP funding would be directed towards Eskom for investment in the transmission grid, it also wanted to secure funding for the transition of the auto manufacturing sector to electric vehicles and for the development of the production of green hydrogen.

The donor countries have previously expressed the greatest interest in funding for Eskom, which is where "the big wins" for decarbonisation are. Sharma said that while these three aspects had remained part of the discussions held with cabinet ministers, it would be concrete investment plans that would determine where funding is directed.

"What was put forward in the discussions with the ministers today is that it is the investment plans that come forward that would form the basis on which funding will be deployed," said Sharma.

On the basis of the investment plan, the IPG would "have a discussion with our friends in the SA government".

"We all understand that as part of any plan we would want to see individual projects, discussed within a framework. I hope in the coming months we can give you further information on this. What I can tell you is that work is being done very actively on that plan." 

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