South African Environment Minister Barbara Creecy said she expects the long-delayed implementation plan for a R163.23 billion ($8.5 billion) climate pact with some of the world’s richest nations to be completed by the COP28 summit that starts on 30 November.
The so-called Just Energy Transition Partnership, which aims to help coal-dependent South Africa transition to cleaner energy, has been slowed by infighting, with opposition coming from politicians close to the coal lobby and labour unions concerned about job losses. Coal is currently used to generate more than 80% of the country’s power.
While initially announced at the COP26 meeting in Glasgow in 2021, most of the funding can’t flow until the implementation plan, to be formulated by the government, is complete.
South Africa’s pact with France, Germany, the UK, the US and the European Union is the first of its kind. The Netherlands and Denmark are also in talks to join the JETP, Bloomberg has previously reported.
Dan Jorgensen, Denmark’s environment minister, confirmed in an interview that his country was engaged in talks but declined to elaborate. Similar plans are now being pursued with Indonesia, Vietnam and Senegal.
“We want to conclude issues around the implementation plan ahead of COP28,” Creecy said in an interview at the Africa Climate Summit in Kenya’s capital Nairobi this week.
The plan has also been delayed by a power supply crisis in South Africa, with the government having made it clear to the foreign partners that energy security is a key priority, according to the minister.
While the country will stick to its emission reduction targets, the planned closure of coal-fired generation units will be delayed, including those at the Camden plant that is next in line to be decommissioned, Creecy said.
“We are not going to take those units at Camden off production,” she said, citing ongoing widespread power cuts, which are being instituted for more than 10 hours a day this week. “We can’t.”