Deal To Wean South Africa Off Coal Lauded

South Africa’s Parliament has lauded the government’s move to end reliance on coal-fired electricity power stations.

This week France, Germany, the United Kingdom, and the United States pledged to support South Africa’s ambitious plan to reduce carbon emissions.

South Africa will receive R131 billion in grants and loans to wean itself off coal-fired power stations much quicker than first planned.

The move, which is also supported by the European Union, in general, will see the money released to South Africa in truncheons over several years.

The carbon emissions-reducing deal announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa on Tuesday was confirmed at the COP26 climate talks in Glasgow, Scotland.

On Wednesday the chairperson of South Africa’s Parliament Portfolio Committee on Environment, Forestry, and Fisheries, Faith Muthambi, welcomed Ramaphosa’s announcement.

She described as “historic” the partnership to support a just transition to a low carbon economy and a climate resilient society in South Africa.

“The committee supports and welcomes this very progressive move by our government, through its president, to join other countries in moves of this nature. South Africa is not an island. It is part of the world’s community of countries,” said Muthambi.

In preparation for COP26, South Africa submitted a revised Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) to reduce domestic carbon emissions within a target range for emissions of between 420 CO2-eq and 350 CO2-eq by 2030. 

The South African government said the revised climate-resilient time table was in line with the ambitious goals of the Paris Agreement and represents the country’s best effort to confront climate change.

Without large-scale mitigation and adaptation efforts, climate change will have a devastating impact on sub-Saharan Africa.

“Through the political declaration issued yesterday to establish this partnership, partner countries will mobilise an initial R131 billion over the next three to five years,” explained Muthambi.

She said this would be done through a range of instruments, including grants and concessional finance, “to support the implementation of the revised NDC through a just transition to a low carbon and climate resilient economy”.

The highly concessional finance 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 the repurposing of coal-fired power stations due for decommissioning over the next 15 years.

“The partnership established yesterday is a watershed moment, not only for South Africa’s just transition but for the world as a whole,” said Muthambi.

“It is proof that South Africa can take ambitious climate action while increasing its energy security, creating jobs and harnessing new opportunities for investment, with support from developed economies.”