President Cyril Ramaphosa called on rich countries to provide “substantial” resources to vulnerable countries to fund their climate action.
Ramaphosa made the announcement on Tuesday during his visit to the UK, the first state visit under the reign of King Charles III.
The President said that as countries rebuild their economies from the Covid-19 pandemic, it is also important to address inequalities between countries.
“Unless we act urgently and with purpose to close the gap between the rich and the poor, hardship and suffering will only deepen. Instability, conflicts and terror will increase,” Ramaphosa said.
“We must address gaps in access to education, health care, safe water, sustainable energy and economic opportunity if we hope to end intergenerational poverty.”
Effects of global warming
According to Ramaphosa, one way to combat social ills is through the response of countries to climate change.
According to him, it is the countries that contribute the least to global warming that are also the most vulnerable to its effects, since they do not have the resources necessary to adapt to drought, floods and rising sea levels.
“And as they strive to grow, industrialize and diversify their economies, their energy needs will grow and the opportunities to reduce emissions will shrink.”
This, Ramaphosa said, places the burden on rich countries to help vulnerable countries finance their climate action.
“This is not charity. This is compensation for the damage done – and yet to be done – to people in developing countries as a result of the industrialization of rich countries.
“And since global emission reductions benefit all countries and all people, it is also a necessary investment in the future of humanity.”
Ramaphosa also thanked the UK for its commitment to delivering a just energy transition in South Africa.
Possibilities of green hydrogen
Earlier Tuesday, UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced new grant-funded technical assistance to South Africa on green hydrogen opportunities and skills development in the sector.
Sunak said Globeleq, a UK-based company majority-owned by British International Investment, will soon complete the legal closing of six solar energy projects expected to begin construction in South Africa next year.
“The UK funding will develop in-demand technical and entrepreneurial skills in the fastest growing sectors, including green tech and electric vehicle manufacturing, ensuring that South African youth benefit from the green technology transition.” Sunak said in a statement.
Ramaphosa said the UK Government’s commitment demonstrated its recognition of the importance of supporting the transition to a low-carbon economy “in a manner that does not disadvantage affected workers, communities or industries.”
“We have urged the UK and other partners to ensure that a significant portion of the funding comes in the form of grants and loans on highly concessional terms,” he said.
Compiled by: Wahangwele Nemakonde