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Creecy: SA is pushing for money from rich countries to help with adapting to climate change

Forestry, Fisheries and Environment Minister Barbara Creecy

Forestry, Fisheries and Environment Minister Barbara Creecy

6th November 2023

By: News24Wire

  

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As nations gather in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) later this month for the global climate summit, COP28, South Africa and other developing nations will be calling for clear targets and funding to adapt to devastating climate impacts.

"Since COP26 [in Glasgow, UK], we have been pushing for the setting of clear adaptation targets," Forestry, Fisheries and Environment Minister Barbara Creecy told News24 in an interview.

"We are saying that, just as you have clear targets for reducing emissions, so the world must have clear targets for building climate resilience," the minister said.

While developed nations have got behind the aim of preventing or mitigating climate change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions that cause global warming, there has been little momentum when it comes to providing support to adapt to climate impacts already happening and being harshly felt by developing nations.

A big reason for this is that there are clear targets for climate mitigation.

When the Paris Agreement of 2015 was finalised at COP21, it was decided the world should prevent global temperatures exceeding 2 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels, and then also pursue efforts to limit temperature increase to 1.5°C, explained Ephraim Mwepya Shitima, the director of Zambia's Department of Green Economy and Climate Change and the chair of the African Group of negotiators on climate change.

Having these clear temperature targets has helped determine how much emissions need to be reduced.

While there was an agreement on developing climate resilience and helping nations adapt to climate change, the targets were missing, said Shitima.

Shitima recalled how, in 2015, when the Paris Agreement was being finalised, developing nations were "convinced" that the goals on adaptation would be "refined" over time.

"Up to now, we have not been able to refine this and have a clear goal with indicators which can bring adaption to the centre," said Shitima.

"If we have clear goals with adaptation, then finance can be made available that is consistent with these goals."

For this reason, the African group of negotiators, of which South Africa is part, have advocated so strongly for a Global Goal on Adaptation to be finalised at COP28.

Last year, at COP27, held in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, South Africa and others expected a framework – with metrics - for the Global Goal on Adaptation. This work was rolled over to COP28, which was met with disappointment.

It is, however, expected that a report, following two years of work on the Global Goal on Adaptation, will be presented at COP28 and that countries will eventually agree to it.

A Global Goal on Adaptation would make it easier to track progress and also to mobilise the resources required to adapt to climate impacts, explained Shitima, who is confident the work will be completed at COP28.

South Africa has been calling specifically for climate resilience to be increased by 50% by 2030 and by 90% by 2050.

"The reason we want to set those targets is that many developing countries are not responsible for major CO2 (carbon) emissions. But because climate change affects the whole world, they [developing nations] are particularly vulnerable, and they do not have the revenue or resource space to significantly build resilience," Creecy explained.

Adaptation is not just limited to being able to respond to storms and other extreme weather occurrences, like wildfires. It also involves building food security, water security and health security - which are all negatively impacted by climate change.

Creecy said that, if the Global Goal on Adaptation is finalised, it would help developing nations secure the funding they need for adaptation purposes.

The "means of implementation" or the provision of resources is also part of the Paris Agreement, she explained.

But funding for adaptation is significantly lower than that available for climate mitigation, or as Creecy described it, "just a drop in the ocean."

The United Nations Environment Programme's Adaptation Gap report of 2023 indicates the cost of adaptation for developing nations is between $215-billion to $387-billion annually until 2030. In contrast, data from 2021 shows that adaptation finance commitments to developing countries were around $21.3-billion.

Maesela Kekana, the chief directorate for international climate change relations and negotiations, explained that the African continent at COP27 had proposed that adaptation finance be doubled.

"But it did not fly... So we will try again this year," Kekana said. 

Edited by News24Wire

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