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Tuesday, March 21, 2023

South Africa has secured $ 8.5 billion to move away from coal. This will be a test case.

For years, developing countries have stated in global climate negotiations that they need additional financial assistance from rich countries to accelerate their transition from fossil fuels.

Now the world is about to go through a serious test of how this might work in practice.

At the Glasgow Climate Summit on Tuesday, South Africa announced that it has pledged $ 8.5 billion in funding over the next five years from France, Germany, the United Kingdom, the United States and the European Union to help establish more clean energy and accelerate the transition of the country. away from coal energy and soften the impact of workers who may be affected by the shift.

“This is a big deal,” said Jesse Burton, energy policy researcher and senior fellow at the University of Cape Town and the E3G Climate Change Research Group. “This is a major test of whether rich countries can help developing countries begin a fair transition from coal.”

South Africa, the 15th largest emitter in the world, still relies overwhelmingly on coal, which provides 87 percent of the country’s electricity. While the country has pledged to cut its overall carbon emissions by 2030 as part of a global effort to tackle climate change, it faces formidable hurdles.

South African state utility Eskom is already mired in more than $ 27 billion in debt, in part due to investments in coal-fired power plants, and the utility is struggling to provide reliable electricity, often resorting to extended power outages to meet demand.

For South Africa to reach its most ambitious climate targets by 2030, analysts believe the country will likely need to accelerate the decommissioning of existing coal-fired power plants while building more renewable energy generation and transmission lines to meet growing demand.

The challenge is compounded by the fact that the country’s fragile economy continues to depend on coal jobs: more than 120,000 people work in power plants and mines. Past discussions about when and how to ditch coal have been politically controversial.

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Tuesday that $ 8.5 billion in loans and grants pledged by rich countries could help the country make this transition by accelerating investment in renewable energy while ensuring that Eskom can access resources. for the conversion of old coal plants slated for retirement. the next 15 years.

The country will also explore initiatives to create new jobs for former coal miners.

“This is proof that we can take ambitious action to combat climate change while enhancing our energy security, creating jobs and seizing new investment opportunities with the support of developed countries,” said Mr Ramaphosa.

However, many questions remain about how the partnership will work in practice. Details of how many new clean energy sources will be built and how much coal will be phased out. There are also questions about whether donor countries will honor their commitments, whether there will be transparency in the use of funds, and whether they will benefit local communities, analysts said.

World Nation News Desk
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