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2023-09-22 10:55 AM

President Ramaphosa’s Urgent Call for Climate Action at UN Summit

  • President Ramaphosa's Urgent Plea: Developed countries must accelerate emission reductions and fulfill climate commitments to combat climate change and its adverse impacts on Africa.
  • Africa's Vulnerability: Ramaphosa highlights Africa's disproportionate climate challenges and calls for a holistic approach that integrates climate action with sustainable development.
  • Opportunities and Challenges: African leaders seek international support to boost renewable energy capacity, promote green technologies, and combat biodiversity loss while emphasizing the need for just and inclusive transitions toward a low-carbon future.
By Miriam Matoma

President Cyril Ramaphosa delivered a passionate call to action at the Climate Ambition Summit on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly, emphasizing the urgency for developed economies to accelerate emission reductions and honor their climate commitments. Ramaphosa’s speech, framed in the context of Africa’s unique challenges and opportunities, shed light on the continent’s vulnerability to climate change and the imperative of pursuing a sustainable, low-carbon future.

Africa’s Climate Vulnerability

The South African President began by highlighting Africa’s growing concerns about climate change, environmental degradation, unsustainable production, and resource scarcity, which have taken a toll on human health and well-being across the continent. “Despite having little responsibility for causing global warming, Africa is warming faster than the rest of the world,” President Ramaphosa asserted, underscoring the disproportionate impact of climate change on the Global South.

Ramaphosa called for a holistic approach that integrates climate action with sustainable and inclusive development. He emphasized that climate action must not only mitigate environmental challenges but also drive economic growth and equality.

Global Climate Goals Off-Track

President Ramaphosa delivered a stark message: the world is falling behind in meeting the objectives outlined in the Paris Agreement. The Climate Ambition Summit, he stressed, must galvanize the necessary urgency to avert environmental catastrophe and societal devastation. Earlier this month, African leaders adopted the Nairobi Declaration on Climate Change and Call to Action, recognizing the opportunity to promote equality and shared prosperity by decarbonizing the global economy.

African Leaders’ Vision

African leaders have urged the international community to support efforts to dramatically increase Africa’s renewable energy capacity by 2030. The call is for investment in smart, digital, and efficient green technologies to decarbonize key sectors like transportation, industry, and electricity generation. Additionally, they seek support to combat biodiversity loss, deforestation, and desertification, along with measures to enhance sustainable agricultural practices.

Structural Reforms for Inclusive Transition

President Ramaphosa emphasized the need for structural reforms that promote just and inclusive transitions. He called for global and regional trade mechanisms that facilitate fair and equitable competition for African products. Environmental tariffs and non-tariff barriers, he stressed, should be the result of multilateral agreements rather than unilateral or discriminatory actions.

Ramaphosa also pointed to the importance of the multilateral financial system in building resilience to climate shocks and leveraging the balance sheets of multilateral development banks for concessional finance. Developing economies, he added, require predictable public finance to support climate adaptation and resilience-building efforts.

The South African leader expressed the need for interventions in debt management and relief to prevent defaults while ensuring that current actions do not burden future generations.

African Renewable Energy Potential

Highlighting South Africa’s commitment to the Paris Agreement, President Ramaphosa emphasized the nation’s potential to lead in renewable energy, green hydrogen, and sustainable industrialization. Regulatory changes and increased investments have resulted in a confirmed pipeline of renewable energy projects that are expected to generate over 10 gigawatts of electricity.

South Africa’s Just Transition Framework

South Africa has established a Just Transition Framework to ensure that climate actions align with principles of procedural, restorative, and distributive justice. The country is determined to build resilience to climate change and reduce emissions in ways that align with its national circumstances and development pathways.

Conclusion: A Global Commitment to Ambitious Climate Action

President Ramaphosa’s impassioned plea at the Climate Ambition Summit called on the world to recognize the urgency of climate action, leaving no one behind. His message highlighted Africa’s unique challenges and opportunities in the face of climate change, emphasizing the need for international support to accelerate sustainable development across the continent. As the world grapples with the climate crisis, the call for urgent and inclusive climate action resonates not only in Africa but across the global community.

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Miriam Matoma

Miriam is a freelance writer, she covers economics and government news for Rateweb. You can contact her on: Email: miriam@rateweb.co.za Twitter: @MatomaMiriam