Minister of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries, Barbara Creecy. Photo: Department of Forestry, Fisheries and Environment//Twitter
The achievement of reducing average global emissions to 1.5°C by 2030 hangs in the balance after no binding agreement to hold parties to that agreement was reached at the COP27 conference, that concluded later than scheduled this past weekend.
There were concerns during the discussions at Sharma El Sheik of backsliding on the agreement to limit emissions to below 1.5°C by the end of this “critical decade”. While there will be global stock take on how countries were performing towards this target ahead of the submissions on new NDCs to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate in a few years, it’s important to keep in mind that this would be guided by each country’s nationally determined contributions (NDCs) to emissions, in line with its circumstances. Furthermore, there’s been no call at COP27 for emissions to peak by 2025 in line with the recommendations of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) to avoid catastrophic effects of climate change.
READ: SA chief negotiator at COP27: whether you like it or not, you really have to care
Speaking at a post COP27 media briefing minister of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment Barbara Creecy, said for its part South Africa was putting a lot of effort into putting together finances into the country’s just transition so that it can achieve the 1.5°C. According to the recently released just energy transition investment plan (JET IP) South Africa plans to reduce carbon emissions by 420-350 megatonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (Mt CO2e) by 2030.
She said: “The UNFCCC can urge and encourage countries to be a bit more ambitious but at the end of the day it’s nationally determined process.
I think there is recognition of the urgency, I can’t tell you whether they are actually going to do it.
“A lot of countries have very significant plans in place, but I don’t know whether we are going to the able to keep average global temperatures to 1.5°C. The best science tells us that the adaptation and loss and damage issues would be less severe if we stick to that target. But whether this target would be achieved I don’t know.”
Creecy who helped facilitate the mitigation talks said she was satisfied with the four-year work programme agreed to with the aim of scaling up mitigation ambitions and the implementation thereof. The programme will include a minimum of two global dialogues, and a review by 2026. However, the outcomes of these would not be prescriptive or punitive but would be respectful of national sovereignty and national circumstances, taking into account the nationally determine contributions.
READ: COP27: Global north and south fail to reach loss and damage funding agreement
Finance was the key issue to be discussed at this year’s COP and attempts to rebuild trust between the global North and South after a sort of acceptance that a new goal of providing finance was necessary and would be worked on incrementally over three years after developed nations failed to honour their pledged $100 billion per annum contribution by 2020 towards climate change.
Establishing a fund on loss and damage was agreed to following tough negotiations and extreme resistance form developed nations. Also agreed to we setting up a transitional committee to work on how this fund would be operationalise with a view of taking a decision at next year’s COP.
“Just the in principle agreement of setting up the loss and damage fund has been a 30-year battle, that’s how significant this decision is It’s been a 30-year battle just to get the principle accepted of course we are going to see a battle about sources and about beneficiaries but we have crossed the first hurdle which was to get the principle established and of course other battles we will see at future COPs,” Creecy said.
There was disappointment on South Africa’s part after the call for a framework for Global Goal on Adaptation to be establish didn’t gain traction. Creecy said there was just no appetite from developing countries to entertain this.
“Instead, the outcome focused more on workshops to build understanding in critical sectors such as health, poverty and livelihoods; terrestrial and freshwater ecosystems; oceans and coasts; water resource management; food; cities and settlements; cultural heritage and mountain regions and biodiversity,” she added.
Despite the mixed bag of outcomes at “Africa’s COP” South Africa’s just transition framework was well received and the ambitious JET IP praised for being properly conceived. Additional funding deals or restructuring of current funding could be on the cards after discussions with partners at COP 27.