President Cyril Ramaphosa has called on rich nations to contribute “substantial” resources to vulnerable countries to fund their climate actions.
Ramaphosa made the plea on Tuesday during his visit to the UK – the first state visit of King Charles III’s reign.
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The president said as countries rebuild their economies in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, it was also important to address the inequality between nations.
“Unless we act with urgency and purpose to close the gap between wealthy and poor, hardship and suffering will only deepen. Instability, conflict and terror will increase,” said Ramaphosa.
“We need to attend to the deficiencies in access to education, health care, safe water, sustainable energy and economic opportunity if we hope to end the poverty that is handed down from one generation to the next.”
Global warming effects
One of the ways to tackle the social ills, according to Ramaphosa, is through countries’ response to climate change.
It is the countries that contribute the least to global warming that are also most vulnerable to its effects, as they do not have the resources needed to adapt to drought, floods and rising sea levels, he said.
“And as they seek to grow, industrialise and diversify their economies, their energy needs will increase and the space they have to reduce emissions will narrow.”
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This, according to Ramaphosa, places the burden on the rich nations to help vulnerable countries fund their climate actions.
“This is not charity. It is compensation for the harm done – and the harm yet to be done – to people in developing economies as a consequence of the industrialisation of wealthy countries.
“And because a global reduction in emissions benefits all countries and all people, it is also a necessary investment in the future of humanity.”
Ramaphosa further thanked the UK’s commitment to the implementation of a just energy transition in South Africa.
Green hydrogen opportunities
Earlier on Tuesday, UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced new grant-funded technical assistance to South Africa on green hydrogen opportunities and boost skills in the sector.
According to Sunak, Globeleq – a UK company which is majority owned by British International Investment – will shortly be reaching legal close on six solar power projects, with construction expected to kick off in South Africa next year.
“UK funding will build the highly sought-after technical and entrepreneurial skills in the biggest growth sectors including green technology and electric vehicle manufacture, ensuring South Africa’s youth are benefitting from the green transition,” said Sunak in a statement.
Ramaphosa said the UK government’s commitment demonstrated its recognition of the importance of supporting transitions to low-carbon economies “in a manner that does not disadvantage affected workers, communities or industries”.
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“We have called on the United Kingdom and the other partners to ensure that a substantial part of the funding takes the form of grants and highly concessional loans,” he said.
Compiled by Vhahangwele Nemakonde