The 27th Conference of the Parties of the UNFCCC (COP 27) will be held in the Republic of Egypt during November 2022. Despite current geopolitical tensions, disruption of global supply chains, general inflation and an energy and food crisis it is hoped that for South Africa, COP27, which is being described as an ‘African COP’ will also be an ‘implementation COP’- where the gap between pledges and actual implementation on the ground is narrowed.

Addressing stakeholders from Midrand on 24 October 2022, Minister Barbara Creecy set out South Africa’s negotiating mandate for COP27. South Africa negotiates as part of the G77 and China and Africa Group of Negotiators (AGN), with SA leading on several thematic areas on behalf of the G77 and AGN.

Key issues highlighted by Minster Creecy include the following:

  • Developed countries need to honour commitments made in terms of the COP26 Glasgow Climate Pact and not ‘back track’.  The COP26 Glasgow Climate Pact adopted last year states that limiting warming to 1.5˚C requires a 45% reduction in global CO2 emissions by 2030 relative to 2010 levels. Accordingly, the Pact agreed to establish a “work programme to urgently scale up mitigation ambition and implementation in this critical decade”.
  • Just Transition- it is important for South Africa to meet its obligations in a way which supports climate justice. There must be equal sharing of benefit and risks.
  • Significantly increased funding for adaptation under the Global Goal on Adaptation (this is a central goal).
  • Finalisation of agreement on the governance of loss and damage under the Convention, including the Santiago Network for Loss and Damage, and discussion on financial arrangements.
  • Advancing negotiations on the post 2025 finance goal.

SA’s negotiating mandate at COP27 focuses on adaptation, mitigation, the Just Energy Transition and finance. In respect of adaptation the focus will be on a work programme which sets clear goals and targets for adaptation, which is linked to concrete numbers for finance requirements.  

On the financial side, anticipated adaptation costs for Africa from 2020 – 2030 are estimated to be USD259 – 407 billion, while loss and damage costs for the same period are expected to be approximately USD289 – 440 billion. The scale of these costs underline the significance of the financial support required from developed nations, and are key for the successful implementation of South Africa’s Just Energy Transition Financing Framework, which was approved by Cabinet last month. A concrete proposal that financial commitments and obligations by developed countries under article 9.1 of the Paris Agreement as well as the $100 billion per annum target will be met, is essential to rebuilding trust after developed countries failed to honour their pre-2020 commitments.

In respect of mitigation, the mitigation work programme (which should support parties to implement their NDC’s and be informed by common and differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities (CBDR& RC) and national circumstances) must not duplicate or prejudge the Global Stocktake, which is the mechanism for ratcheting up ambition and enhancing NDC’s, based on equity and best available science. In addition, developed countries should not renege on their ambition in light of new energy challenges or impose new mitigation targets on developing countries that shift the burden or are not backed up by implementation support.

Whether COP27 meets Africa’s expectation as an implementation COP remains to be seen. The NRF team will be at COP27 to monitor the negotiation process and to report on outcomes from the Conference.