South Africa

Government turns to private sector for climate fund

South Africa will seek private-sector participation in a planned climate-change response fund announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa last week. 

The fund will be used to pay for the strengthening of infrastructure against extreme weather as well as to restore bridges and roads damaged by those events, Environment Minister Barbara Creecy told a meeting of the Presidential Climate Commission on Friday. 

“There will be support from government. It’s also intended to attract other forms of finance from the private sector,” she said. “From a government perspective, we need additional finance.”

The fund is the latest measure South Africa has announced in a bid to prepare for climate change, which has already been tied to devastating floods in the southeastern KwaZulu-Natal province.

The country is embarking on a program to cut its reliance on coal and has set an ambitious target to reduce emissions. 

Creecy said the fund should focus on pre-empting climate-related damage rather than merely responding to disasters. That could include paying for better early-warning systems in addition to funding infrastructure. 

“Early-warning systems are extremely important,” she said. “Loss and damage becomes a bottomless pit.”

The fund will also seek to access money from the loss-and-damage fund that the international community agreed to set up at the COP28  climate summit.

It will need to be set up in an accountable and transparent way in order to deal with concerns about corruption and attract finance, according to the minister.

If someone puts money in the fund, they will want to know, “Will it go to deal with climate, or will somebody eat it?”, she said. 


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