South Africa welcomes the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC’s) sixth assessment report on mitigation and, as South Africa takes a developmental approach to climate action, this report provides valuable scientific information to guide its just transition, says Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment Minister Barbara Creecy.
“The IPCC Working Group III (WGIII) report on mitigation finds that the world has already spent [80%] of the carbon budget consistent with a 1.5 °C rise in temperatures. This means that a very small carbon budget remains.
“Given that poor countries and communities will suffer most from climate impacts at higher global warming levels, all countries and stakeholders need to take action. This important report on mitigation emphasises the urgency of acting on mitigation, globally,” she emphasises.
However, support to adequately fund a just transition remains vital to ensuring no-one is left behind and that South Africa's urgent development goals can be met at the same time.
The WGIII report provides new framing of “shifting development pathways towards sustainability (SDPS)”, which goes together with the climate resilient development pathways in the WGII report released earlier this year, the Minister notes.
“The IPCC reports, thus, show that climate action is part of a developmental agenda and that mitigation and adaptation must be addressed together with means of implementation.
“In the context of this report, issues of climate justice have never been more compelling. As we transition our energy generation and at least seven sectors of our economy, we are encouraged to see the IPCC report highlights a growing number of just transition commissions, laws, institutions and processes,” Creecy states.
Work is well under way in South Africa to implement the Just Energy Transition Partnership to support the accelerated phase-down of coal-fired power and to support social justice.
State-owned power utility Eskom has already commissioned significant research on social and labour plans for the transition of coal-fired power stations facing decommissioning later this decade.
Labour unions have published a blueprint for workers in a just transition, which has been welcomed.
“Climate action remains a national and international priority and South Africa remains firmly committed to contributing its best effort towards the global cause of addressing climate change,” Creecy emphasises.
Further, the WGIII mitigation report also highlights the systemic nature of mitigation.
“We have recognised that the consequences of climate change will be catastrophic for the world and for South Africa in particular. We have also realised that we cannot continue on the current economic path, which is unsustainable and ecologically damaging,” Creecy says.
“This is evident from South Africa’s updated Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) deposited with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in 2021. The updated NDC not only contains South Africa's first adaptation communication, but also updated mitigation targets for 2025 and 2030,” she says.
The country’s mitigation target range for 2025 has been updated from its original value of 398-million to 614-million tonnes of carbon dioxide-equivalent (CO2-eq) to 398-million to 510-million tonnes of CO2-eq for 2025.
Further, and most significantly, its 2030 mitigation target range has been updated from 398-million to 614-million tonnes of CO2-eq to a range of 350-million to 420-million tonnes of CO2-eq.
“The top of the range of our revised NDC is consistent with the Paris Agreement's temperature limit of well below 2 °C, and the bottom of the range is consistent with the Paris Agreement's 1.5 °C temperature limit.
“Not only has South Africa very significantly increased the ambition of its mitigation targets, but we have also brought forward the year in which emissions are due to decline from 2035 in the initial NDC to 2025 in the updated NDC,” says Creecy.
Meeting these mitigation targets will depend on considerable levels of multilateral support, as specified in the Paris Agreement, in the form of the provision of finance, technology transfer and capacity-building, she notes.