Barbara Creecy | Mitigation, adapation and means of implementation the keys to success of COP26

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South Africa is committed to joining many other countries in doing our part to reduce carbon gas emissions, writes the author. (iStock)
South Africa is committed to joining many other countries in doing our part to reduce carbon gas emissions, writes the author. (iStock)

If COP26 is going to be successful, developing countries, such as South Africa need support from developed countries in the form of finance, technology and capacity building to raise ambition concerning mitigation and adaptation, writes Barbara Creecy.


For the 26th Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC COP26) in Glasgow, Scotland, to be relevant, responsive and successful, we need ambition and progression on mitigation, adaptation and means of implementation, namely finance, technology and capacity building. 

In July, I joined 50 Ministers of environment and conservation worldwide for a two-day summit in London to lay the groundwork for success ahead of November’s international climate talks in Scotland.  

READ | Alok Sharma: Time is now to step-up climate action

Hosted by the UNFCCC COP26 President-Designate, Alok Sharma, this was the first face-to-face ministerial of its kind in more than 18 months. The topics under discussion included the Global Goal on Adaptation and scaling up of efforts to adapt to the impacts of climate change, keeping 1.5°C alive, loss and damage caused by climate change, focus on Article 6 of the Paris Agreement, and mobilising climate finance.

Climate-related events in recent years have shown that no country will be immune to both extreme and slow-onset weather events. In this regard, South Africa is committed to joining many other countries in doing our part to reduce carbon gas emissions. We are in the process of revising our Nationally Determined Contribution to reducing emissions and will submit this ahead of COP 26 in Glasgow in November of this year. 

Aspirations

Given the importance of long-term pathways for attaining the goal of keeping global temperature increases to 1.5o Celsius, South Africa is of the view that it would be useful to encourage parties to the Convention to update and communicate their long-term strategies and to provide with this encouragement the means of support for developing countries to do so. We believe that it would be valuable for the Secretariat to compile a synthesis report of these long-term strategies from time to time.

South Africa submitted its Low Emissions Development Strategy to the UNFCCC last year.

READ | Analysis: Lacklustre climate targets are a risky proposition for South Africa

This document includes an aspiration to achieve net carbon zero emissions by 2050.

One of the triumphs of Paris is the global goal on adaptation, a robust recognition of the centrality of adaptation to the multilateral climate regime. Yet, we still do not have a global goal on adaptation.

Global goal

In the interest of stimulating debate and discussion, South Africa suggested in London the following as a potential global goal on adaptation:

 “To increase the resilience of the global population to climate change by at least 50% and reduce the portion of the global population that is impacted by the adverse effects of climate change by at least 50%, by 2030 and by at least 90% by 2050. 

In this regard, focus would be placed on the most vulnerable people and communities; their health and well-being; food and water security; infrastructure and the built environment; and ecosystems and ecosystem services, particularly in Africa, Small Island states and Least Developed Countries.”

Discussions also took place on concluding the issues of carbon markets, or Article 6 of the Paris Agreement. South Africa argued that the main focus should be ensuring robust accounting rules, and ensuring the share of proceeds from internationally transferred mitigation outcomes to finance adaptation efforts of developing countries.  

Emerging markets require an estimated $3-4 trillion annually in low-carbon investments over the next 15 years to operationalise and implement the current round of updated Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) and to prepare a second updated NDC in 2025. 

Finance

Developed countries need to ensure access to long-term, predictable, and affordable finance for developing countries. With regard to the $100 billion commitment from 2020 through to 2025, it is imperative from the perspective of restoring and maintaining trust and transparency that the Conference of Parties assess whether the goal of mobilising jointly $100 billion per annum has been achieved. 

As a reflection of ambition and progression, we must initiate deliberations on setting a new collective quantified mobilisation goal before 2025 from a floor of $100 billion per year from both public and private sources taking into account the needs and priorities of developing countries. In this regard, we require that Parties at COP26 agree on a clear road map outlining milestones towards setting this goal. 

I had proposed at the London meeting that as a starting point, a new mobilisation goal could potentially be that:

“Developed countries commit to a new collective goal of mobilising jointly $750 billion dollars a year by 2030 from a floor of $100 billion, taking into account the needs and priorities of developing countries, and in the context of meaningful mitigation actions and transparency on implementation. This funding will come from a wide variety of sources, public and private, bilateral and multilateral, including alternative sources of finance."

COP 26 has been dubbed the "Ambition COP". Developing countries such as our own will only be able to raise our ambition concerning mitigation and adaptation if we have access to support from developed countries in the form of finance, technology and capacity building.

 - Barbara Creecy is the Minister of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment.

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