Thursday, February 2, 2023 | Climate envoys on the spot to explain burning 'a little... | Climate envoys on the spot to explain burning 'a little more coal' than planned




Presidential Climate Finance Task Team head Daniel Mminele.

Presidential Climate Finance Task Team head Daniel Mminele.

  • Climate envoys met this week to discuss SA’s energy transition.
  • The UK and Germany say they are accelerating the shift to renewables in their own economies, despite Europe’s energy crisis.
  • No investment plan or clear funding package is on the table yet.
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Climate envoys of the UK and EU on Thursday insisted that their countries were not watering down their commitments to clean energy in the light of the Russian-invoked energy crisis, despite their use of “a little more coal than planned.”

The envoys – the UK’s John Murton and Germany’s Christian Gruen – were speaking at a press briefing in Pretoria on Thursday by the Just Energy Transition Partnership (JetP), established at COP26 last November to assist SA in achieving its goal of a more ambitious carbon reduction target. 

The JetP, which also includes France, Germany, and the US, has pledged $8.5 billion in grants and concessional funding to the process with the partners hoping to finalise an investment plan by October. In return, SA must meet “more ambitious climate goals”, which SA’s head of finance for the JetP, Daniel Mminele, said remained a firm commitment. 

“SA continues to be committed to its nationally determined contribution (NDC) at COP26 and as we said previously, it is about a whole economy transition to inform our future growth and development model. The NDC is indeed ambitious, both for our own good and as part of our contribution to the global climate response,” Mminele said on Thursday.

READ | After slow progress SA races the clock for COP billions plan by November

However, neither the funding package nor the pipeline of projects that will make up the investment plan, are nailed down yet with the deadline of COP27 in November already looming.

But it was the funding partners’ shift back to fossil fuels that came under scrutiny at the briefing.  

Said Murton: 

While it is true that as a result of the pressures coming from Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine, some of us anticipate using a little more coal than we planned, but I want to put this in perspective. Over the past 12 months, coal has provided only 1.7% of UK power and we will end the use of coal by October 2024 as planned. There is no dash back to coal in the UK or Europe or elsewhere.

In the light of the war, the UK had increased its wind energy target from 40GW to 50GW by 2040, which, he said, was more than enough to provide every household with energy. 

“We remain committed to all our climate goals,” said Murton. 

Gruen, who responded to questions about German chancellor Olaf Scholtz’s recent visit to SA in which he expressed interest in SA coal, said there were many opportunities for cooperation between the countries that had been discussed. Most notably, Germany was interested in the production of “green aviation fuel” given SA’s potential to manufacture green hydrogen. 

Gruen echoed Murton’s point that the war in Ukraine was accelerating the energy transition in the developed world. 

“The Russian aggression has shown us in Germany the need to accelerate the move to renewable sustainable energy and we see the huge opportunities for cheaper energy sources,” he said.

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