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New fund to mobilise public and private funding to climate-proof existing essential infrastructure

President Cyril Ramaphosa

President Cyril Ramaphosa

19th February 2024

By: Terence Creamer

Creamer Media Editor

     

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President Cyril Ramaphosa has provided some additional background to the Climate Change Response Fund, the formation of which he announced in his recent State of the Nation Address.

Writing in his weekly newsletter, the President said the fund would seek to mobilise public and private finances to build greater climate resiliency, amid a rise in deadly extreme weather events and increased loss and damage to domestic infrastructure.

“This includes climate-proofing existing essential infrastructure and facilities such as water and food systems, roads, rail and ports, human settlements and health care.

“The fund will also collaborate with a variety of partners to respond to immediate needs in communities following climate change-related disasters,” he added.

The fund has been developed following the decision at COP28, which took place in the United Arab Emirates last year, to operationalise a Loss and Damage Fund, as well as the African Union Commission’s establishment of a Climate Finance Unit in recognition of the continent’s “extreme vulnerability to the effects of global warming”. 

While highlighting wildfires in the Western Cape, heatwaves in the Northern Cape, continuing drought conditions in the Eastern Cape and intense storms in Gauteng, the President’s letter also noted the reoccurence of flooding this year “even before we could properly recover and rebuild after the 2022 floods in KwaZulu-Natal, Eastern Cape and North West”. 

“The insurance industry is warning about the increasing costs of disaster risk finance, and even talking about the prospect of highly vulnerable regions eventually becoming uninsurable.”
  
The Climate Change Response Fund would form part of what was described as a “comprehensive response to climate change” that included both adaptation and measures to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions.

The new fund would focus on adaptation, while the mitigation measures would be coordinated under the banner of the Just Energy Transition Investment Plan.

Speaking at a Presidential Climate Commission meeting last week, Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment Minister Barbara Creecy said the Climate Change Response Fund would be a “channel” for financial resources that could be made available to developing countries following the recent operationalisation of a Loss and Damage Fund.

Creecy said consideration was being given to hosting the fund either at the Development Bank of Southern Africa or the Industrial Development Corporation but provided no timeframe from its implementation.

She also confirmed that government would set aside some resources to capitalise the fund but indicated that the intention was to also crowd-in private finance in a manner similar to the Solidarity Fund that was set up during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Resources secured for the fund could also be used to strengthen the country’s early-warning systems for detecting extreme weather events, with Creecy noting that there were growing domestic and international examples of how the use of such systems had been effective in preventing the loss of life.

Adaptation efforts, the Minister added, could also help ensure that climate-related loss and damage did not become a “bottomless pit” for municipalities and provinces, which currently relied on disaster-management allocations to finance relief efforts.

“As a country we cannot be complacent about climate change because its impacts are already with us,” Ramaphosa warned in his newsletter.

Edited by Creamer Media Reporter

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