Home Opinion and Features Kudos for Ramaphosa’s stance at Climate Funding Summit

Kudos for Ramaphosa’s stance at Climate Funding Summit


OPINION: President Cyril Ramaphosa broke with protocol at the Climate Finance Summit and took on a radical stance on the issue affecting financing of African countries on infrastructure, the Just Energy Transition and poverty, as well as the broken promises made by Western countries in financing the JET pathway, writes Crown Prince Adil Nchabeleng.

President Cyril Ramaphosa participated in a High-Level Round Table discussion themed “New methods: green growth partnership” of the New Global Financing Pact two-day Summit held in Paris, France. Picture: GCIS

By Crown Prince Adil Nchabeleng

THE FRENCH government, led by President Emmanuel Macron, hosted this year’s Climate Finance Summit held between June 22 to 23 in Paris, France, and alongside was Prime Minister Mia Mottley of Barbados as the co-host of the Summit.

The invite was made to all Heads of State under an umbrella of a Summit for a New Global Financing Pact and the theme of the Summit was “Towards More Commitments to Meet the 2030 Agenda?”. The Summit aimed to build a new contract between the North and the South, to facilitate access to financing by the vulnerable countries.

It was so refreshing to see how African leaders were humbled by the French, and driven around without pomp and ceremony in little Peugeot and Citroën sedans with nothing luxurious, However, the Climate Finance Summit didn’t turn out as expected.

The Paris Climate Funding Summit this time around was attended by presidents of most nations except heads of states of super power countries such as the US, Russia, China and Britain.

President Cyril Ramaphosa, in his most radical speech ever, for the first time in a long time, broke with protocol at the Summit and took on a radical stance on the issue affecting financing of African countries on infrastructure, the Just Energy Transition and poverty, as well as the failures and disappointment over broken promises made by Western countries in financing the Just Energy Transition pathway.

In a clear, well-articulated speech, Ramaphosa pointed out the frustrations and challenges that South Africa faced in respect to climate, financing and poverty funding mechanisms run and overseen by global finance institutions and donors, who have failed to keep their funding promises over the years.

He said, “We need funding capital to address key challenges that many countries face, especially developing countries. What is important to many of us is that there should be solid consensus on the reform of the financial architecture of the world.

“This is not a zero sum game. We have to participate as equals and not beggars, who are dealt with out of generosity, with a good measure of equality amongst sovereign nations. Africa should never be seen as a beggar continent that must be given donations; we want to be treated as equals.”

Ramaphosa said Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi had highlighted that the $100 billion (R1.9 trillion) per year was promised at Paris Climate COP Conference, but those commitments were never fully lived up to since they were made.

“There was a $100 billion dollar capital that was supposed to be made available and this should stand out as something that needs to be addressed. We want to see the talk being walked. Over 600 million people in Africa do not have electricity yet we have got all the sources to generate electricity,” Ramaphosa said.

Europe and the Americans had promised South Africa funds to assist to kickstart the Just Energy Transition programme. So far the failed Euro-Anglo climate funding programme has fallen flat due to broken promises and non-delivery by Western countries.

Ramaphosa was not alone in this sentiment. The heads of states of developing countries were very unhappy about how Europe and the US have been dominating the Global Finance structures.

This as global funding mechanisms are made up of mainly select nation states and shareholders, with boards filled by internal staff and non-independent board members. The global North through its shares controls the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, which dictate how Africa and other developing countries should be funded.

Indeed, various leaders of developing countries showed great dissatisfaction at the Summit, saying that the Climate Funding Mechanism was just big speeches and no action.

In particular, South Africa was promised $8.5 billion (R159bn) in the last meeting with US President Joe Biden when the offer was made to finance South Africa’s transition from coal to green energy. Nothing has materialised ever since and no funds were ever made available.

Even as the Summit was ending there was no deal on the table to hold Europe and US responsible for their commitment to reducing carbon emissions, and agreeing to a carbon tax that equals to their level of emissions.

Only African and developing countries were expected to make such commitments, but the global North didn’t make any commitment to pay for their share of emissions and to reduce their emissions.

The Summit highlighted the deep hypocrisy of Europe and America on their commitments to climate finance and climate commitments.

Instead, they look to developing countries to stop using fossil fuels, while the global North continues to pollute without limits and live as if there is no climate crisis.

Furthermore, the climate crisis is being used as an opportunity by the North to punt expensive climate finance to Africa and other developing countries. So who is failing over climate crisis financing?

But, ultimately, Kenya’s President William Ruto was a star at the summit, making a valuable point.

Ruto pointed out that global financial institutions were not fair when they loaned Africa funds for development. Africa, and Kenya specifically, got funded for development resources at eight times the price of financing.

Instead, Ruto stressed the importance that a new finance system be put in place that was led by all partners and not national interests and shareholders.

Ruto said, “We need a new global financing mechanism not led by national interests especially for climate financing using a carbon price flow. Everyone has to pay their part.“

Africa refused to be treated as unequal partners, but should be treated equally, where everyone should pay their share based on their level of emissions, he said.

About $1.5 trillion (R28trl) to $2trl a year funding could be achieved if everyone played their part to reach by 2039 a 45% carbon reduction, and by 2050 for the world to achieve net zero goals. And if the fund was backed properly $8trl could be the value of the funding capital to be made available to reach climate goals.

Ruto said the climate change crisis could only be dealt with if financing was not subject to national interests and shareholders interests.

* Crown Prince Adil Nchabeleng is President of Transform RSA and an independent energy expert.


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