As drought grips South Africa, a fair and ambitious global climate deal is critical to limit the future impacts of climate change on vulnerable people

logocop21-ppalJOHANNESBURG: With parts of South Africa in the grip of one of the worst droughts in thirty years, civil society organisations today called on Government to stand for climate justice at the upcoming climate negotiations by securing finance for adaptation and increasing ambition to cut emissions at home.

With KwaZulu-Natal and Mpumalanga facing severe water shortages and maize production falling to its lowest level for eight years, water shortages and food price rises threaten to hit the poorest South Africans hard and affect food exports to neighbouring countries.

‘This drought is just a taste of things to come in the future’ says Happy Khambule of Project 90 by 2030. ‘Globally governments, including our own, must act now to cut their greenhouse gas emissions by stopping fossil fuel burning and changing agricultural methods. Otherwise we could see devastating 4-6 degree Celsius increases in temperature in some parts of South Africa in the next 50 years. The most vulnerable people are already hit. Drought makes it harder to grow your own food, falling crop yields raises food prices, and water is becoming scarcer.’

The current droughts are caused by a combination of the impacts of human created climate change and the natural, global El Nino weather cycle. El Nino occurs every two to seven years and is affecting large parts of the world causing higher temperatures and changing rainfall patterns. NASA data shows that October this year is the hottest month ever on record, continuing the upward trend in global temperatures of the last ten years.

The next round of climate negotiations, COP21 (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change 21st Conferences of the Parties), begins in Paris on 30th November, and as Chair of the G77+China group made up of developing countries, South Africa has a critical role to play. Finance is one of the key battlegrounds with calls for USD100bn a year to be made available by 2020, but debate is still ongoing about how this should be divided between projects that cut emissions and the adaptation projects that help vulnerable communities and economic sectors adapt to climate change. What is not up for debate is the need for global responsibility to drastically cut greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change.

Central to the negotiations will be the adequacy of commitments to date made by countries to cut emissions (mitigation plans) and the financing that must be made available for countries affected by the worst climate impacts to adapt (adaptation plans). Countries are to obligated submit their domestically determined “commitments” for mitigation and many developing countries have included their adaptation needs as well, in the form of Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDC). South Africa submitted its own INDC in October 2015 and Government’s delegation has now also communicated its intended negotiating position going in COP21.

In response to both, a group of South African environmental campaign groups, faith based organisations and community campaigners have set out non-negotiable ‘climate red lines’ providing the delegation with its mandate for COP21 and calling for a greater ambition to cut emissions. The ‘climate red lines’ include:

GREATER AMBITION AT HOME – South Africa’s position must preserve the principle of national sovereignty, but too much emphasis is placed on mitigation and adaptation plans being conditional on international funding. There must be a more ambitious, raised baseline for emission reduction, regardless of international funding.

EQUAL FINANCING TO MITIGATE AND ADAPT – Annual climate finance should be dedicated equally to adaptation and mitigation for developing countries including South Africa, and the initial target of USD100bn a year by 2020 should be met, and then increased.

INCLUSION OF SOUTH AFRICA and other emerging economies for eligibility for climate finance for both adaptation and mitigation.

The full list of organisations that have come together is, the Adaptation Network, Birdlife South Africa, Earthlife Africa JHB, Ekurhuleni Environmental Organisation (EEO), Khoelife Cooperative, Gauteng Climate Group, Greenpeace Africa, One Million Climate Jobs Campaign (OMCJC), Oxfam, Project 90 by 2030, SAIIA youth, South South North (SSN), Southern African Faith Communities Environmental Institute (SAFCEI), Vaal Environmental Justice Network, World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and YouLead-Collective (YLC).



Neoka Naidoo

Hin Wah Li