As South Africa works towards achieving a just energy transition, government has reiterated that workers and communities that are highly dependent on the fossil fuels value chain will be part of the various initiates that seek to protect livelihoods.
Addressing a virtual media briefing on Thursday, Head of the Presidential Climate Finance Task Team, Daniel Mminele, emphasized that communities will be considered through a level of consultation.
“We are committed to making sure that communities and employees that stand to be affected most by the transition are part and parcel of the various initiatives and plans that we put in place to protect livelihoods. [We are going to] make sure that the retraining and reskilling opportunities allow people to be equipped to find jobs in a new, greener and more sustainable economy,” Mminele said.
He made these remarks during a joint media briefing, together with climate envoys from the European Union, France, Germany, the United Kingdom and the United States.
The briefing provided an update on the Just Energy Transition Partnership (JETP) and the finalisation of an Investment Plan to guide South Africa’s just transition.
Through the Political Declaration issued in November 2021 to establish this partnership, the United Kingdom – together with the European Union, France, Germany, and the United States – undertook to mobilise an initial amount of $8.5 billion over the next three to five years to support the achievement of South Africa’s ambitious Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC).
The NDC is a climate action plan aimed at cutting emissions and adapting to climate impacts.
“Decisions that need to be made have a very far reaching nature. There is extensive levels of stakeholder consultations that need to be undertaken and processes that we have no intentions of short-cutting, and making sure we consult and take everyone along as best as we can,” Mminele said.
The envoys have already had engagements with the most affected region in Mpumalanga in terms of how the country plans to deal with the transition.
In terms of the investment plan, which maps the investments required to achieve a just energy transition, South Africa is working with the JETP secretariat.
“We are aiming to complete the investment plan by October, which will then enable us to demonstrate concrete progress in realising the objectives of the partnership by COP27.
“We will make sure that the governance arrangements, monitoring and reporting will ensure that funds are applied for the intended purposes,” Mminele said.
In addition, the credentials climate commission has finalized its work on the Just Transition Framework, which will be submitted to Cabinet, and will inform elements of the investment plan, as well as mechanisms that are necessary to ensure a just transition for affected workers and communities.
“We will be consulting with key stakeholders on the investment plan in the coming months, including through working groups in each of the priority areas that include representatives from both the private sector and public sector.
“This will ensure that we have an investment plan that represents a shared vision for South Africa’s transition and programme of action to achieve our climate commitments and national objectives.
“South Africa remains committed to making this partnership a success towards the path of a greener and more sustainable future. We are convinced that this path will also contribute to long-term energy security and support economic growth, development and job creation,” Mminele said.
United Kingdom’s COP26 Envoy and Chair of the International Partners Group, John Murton, said the investment plan is a huge undertaking that supports the ambitious transformation of South Africa’s energy systems, ensuring that it is done a way that is just and inclusive.
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“It will also ensure that we can support a process that develops and builds the energy that South Arica requires and helps it achieve its emission goals in a way that leaves no one behind.
“A guarantee will form a part of the UK’s contribution to the mobilisation of funds for the JETP. We will be supporting a guarantee as part of our contribution,” Murton said.
He said the UK will support the build-up of clean and reliable power in South Africa, in line with the country’s NDC, in a way that is the most cost effective.
“All of the countries around the table are in the process of accelerating our transition away from fossil fuels, and accelerating and making more ambitious targets for 2030 and beyond.
“We are trying to support the South African government in providing ample and reliable power to help drive forward its economy and deliver the ambitious emissions reductions set out in the NDC and to mobilise funds in a way that is just and supports South Africa’s broader inclusive economic growth and leaves no one behind,” Murton said.