Minister Edna Molewa: Speech at United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change CoP20 side event

Honourable Ministers,

Madam facilitator,

Guests and colleagues

Thank you for giving South Africa the opportunity to make an input at this side event which talks to getting ready for a low-carbon transformation.

South Africa’s socio-economic context

The South African government welcomes the fifth Assessment Report of the IPCC which calls all countries to climate change action. Climate change is indeed a threat to South Africa’s sustainable development. Similar to the rest of the African continent, we are vulnerable to the same water, food security, health, livelihood and infrastructural challenges. And, despite the great development gains that we have been made in our 20 years of freedom, we do have major development and poverty eradication challenges.

South African government response

South Africa response to climate change is described in the National Climate Change Response Policy which was adopted the Cabinet in November, 2011. This Policy presents the South African Government’s vision for an effective climate change response and the long-term, just transition to a climate-resilient and lower-carbon economy and society.

In addition, South Africa has a Green Economy Strategy which seeks to grow economic activity in the green industry sector, so as to attract investment, create jobs and improve competitiveness. The Green Economy Strategy also provides the strategic direction for transitioning existing economic sectors towards cleaner, low-carbon industries with sustained socio-economic benefits and low environmental impact.

Madam Facilitator, the key lesson that we have learned as we were doing this work is that climate action must be enshrined in national policies if it is to achieve effective implementation.

Climate Finance

The creation of enabling environments at both national and international levels play an important role in the mobilisation of climate finance. South Africa has established a National Green Fund which is an innovative approach to catalyse investment in green programmes, focussing on green innovation, new and emerging technology development, as well as skills and capacity development.

Regarding the GCF resource mobilisation process, South Africa warmly welcomes the substantial replenishments of the GCF. South Africa continues to make the call for further scaling up of GCF such that it is commensurate with achieving the ultimate goal of the convention.

A lesson that South Africa has learned regarding climate finance is that climate finance sources at both multilateral and bilateral levels are more predictable than the much talked about innovative sources of funding. We are also of the view that applying a country driven and country led approach is a central component in this regard.

What action is required to put developing countries on a path of low carbon climate resilient development? Our view is that bilateral and multilateral climate finance is required at scale, both as grant and on concessional basis, with simple and harmonised procedures to support developing countries in buying down the risk, leveraging additional resource and crowd in greater finance.

Examples that serve as inspirations for the aim of transformation towards a low-carbon, climate-resilient economy

In its National Climate Change Response Strategy, South Africa describes Near-term Priority Flagship Programmes. The Near-Term Priority Flagship Programmes are diverse, spanning multiple sectors, cover both adaptation and mitigation measures and conceptualised and implemented by both the Public and Private Sectors. Taken together, these climate change programmes demonstrate low emission development pathways and actions to enhance climate resilience in key thematic areas.

An outstanding example of these programmes is the rapid uptake of large-scale renewable energy technologies through our Renewable Energy Independent Power Purchase Programme. This programme has resulted in billions of dollars of investment in zero-carbon electricity sources in the last two years, and large-scale wind and solar plants are currently being connected to the grid in significant numbers – adding some 3900 mega tonnes of Clean Energy.

The programme presents a significant opportunity to reduce the carbon intensity of South Africa’s electricity provision and has considerable potential to hasten the transition to a lower carbon economy, while reaping the benefits of new markets and supporting industries. In 2009 renewable energy provided less than 2% of total generating capacity in South Africa and it is envisaged that by 2030, renewable energy will amount to 42% of new generation capacity. The Integrated Energy Plan of 2010 also advocate for a 34% reduced emissions intensity of electricity supply by 2030.

The other example of the Flagship Programme is the Energy Efficiency and Energy Demand Management Flagship Programme. Through this Flagship Programme, the Departments of Energy, Public Works and Environmental Affairs in partnership with the German government and GIZ are facilitating the development and preparation of the Vertically-Integrated NAMA, also known as V-NAMA, in Public Buildings.

The Energy Efficiency and Energy Demand Management Flagship Programme builds on the energy efficiency programmes in:

(i) Industry, and these are being implemented by the Department of Energy,

(ii) the experience of Eskom’s Demand Side Management programme and

(iii) the government building energy efficiency programme led by the Department of Public Works.

Climate Change Adaptation

Lastly, regarding resilience to climate change; South Africa’s work is includes the following three main areas:

(i) Adaptation research – the main focus of this work is on the Long Term Adaptation Scenarios

(ii) Planning and Implementation – which focuses on developing South Africa’s Climate Change Adaptation Strategy. This work also includes Sector, Provincial, Local Adaptation Plans/Strategies.

(iii) Policy – which is about Mainstreaming climate change adaptation response measures into sector plans and policies

Madam Facilitator, for South Africa, the move towards climate resilience is closely linked with mitigation ambition by all countries. We interpret this linkage to mean that Adaptation to climate change is a global responsibility.


In conclusion, taken together my inputs today illustrate that South Africa, as a responsible global citizen, is building the climate resilience of its economy and its people and is also managing the transition to a climate-resilient, equitable and internationally competitive lower-carbon economy and society in a manner that simultaneously addresses South Africa’s over-riding national priorities for sustainable development.

We thank our international partners in walking this journey with us. Specifically, I want to mention that we highly appreciate the generous support of the government of Germany in supporting South Africa’s transition towards a lower carbon economy and a climate resilient society. Key programmes that are supported by the German government in South Africa include those in the field of Energy Efficiency, Renewable Energy and Climate Policy development.

Madam Facilitator, Honourable Ministers, Panelists, guests and colleagues, thank you once again for granting us this opportunity to make this input.

Thank you.