UK High Commissioner to South Africa Nigel Casey confirmed on Tuesday that his country was still committed to doubling its climate finance assistance to developing countries to £11.6-billion over the next five years. He was speaking at a joint briefing in Pretoria (which he hosted) marking the fifth anniversary of the Paris Climate Accord (which was signed in December 2015) and heralding the COP26 climate summit to be held in Glasgow in the UK next year.
Regarding South Africa, he pointed out that the country had been a significant player in the negotiation of the Paris Accord. But South Africa was also a significant emitter of greenhouse gases.
For COP26, the UK would be working with South Africa to achieve agreement on the next steps to deal with climate change, especially with regard to financing these measures. Britain sought to increase the funding to be made available to help poorer countries implement climate mitigation and adaptation measures.
He assured that Britain also wished to help South Africa’s own transition to a lower carbon economy, particularly in the energy sector, which was the main source of its greenhouse gas emissions. He welcomed South Africa’s new strategy to achieve net zero carbon (or greenhouse gas) emissions by 2050.
It was Britain’s ambition to part of this process. “We want to support South Africa to be part of this global shift, [and] to create sustainable jobs here,” he stated.
Under the Paris Accord, the countries of the world agreed to take measures to limit the warming of the Earth’s climate by a global average of less than 2 ˚C above pre-industrial levels by the end of this century. “We’re not on track to deliver that,” warned Casey. While 2020 had been dominated by the Covid-19 pandemic, the development of vaccines had created a way out of that crisis. But there was still no sign of a way out of the bigger crisis of climate change.
Consequently, the countries of the world had to commit themselves, at COP26, to enhanced carbon emission cuts. The world had to move to a low carbon future, with net zero carbon emissions. However, even if the world could halt the rising global temperature today, the globe would still experience climate change and adaptation measures would still be needed.
The UK itself was seeking to achieve a Green Industrial Revolution, creating new industries and new jobs. But this is not being imposed by government decree, in disregard of the private sector. “We have brought the business community along [with the process] and they support government policy,” he highlighted.