On Monday, South Africa turned down a promise to phase out coal finance within thirty years. This decision is following a rising list of countries defying several of the United Nations’ most onerous global warming mandates.
This is led by China, the world’s largest top polluter and largest coal burner.
They Cannot Dictate to the World
The COP26 climate conference in Glasgow, Scotland advocated that coal financing be phased out by the 2030s for large economies and the 2040s for underdeveloped countries.
The promise was signed by 40 national governments and institutions; however, South Africa was not one of them.
“South Africa has so far not accepted the commitment to phase out coal. Our view in talks is all choices must be taken through negotiations and agreement,” said Barbara Creecy, South Africa’s Secretary of Forestry, Fisheries, and Environmental Affairs.
— Dr N. Brodie נחמה (@brodiegal) November 10, 2021
“We should be concerned about circumstances in which there is a growing trend to create platforms and commitments outside of the bargaining process. It is unfair to underdeveloped countries,” she stated.
Protesting the rushed nature of these climate change promises is controversial. Some climate activists dismiss this as dramatic, toothless “greenwashing,” as they were not correctly brokered and approved by legislative bodies.
However, Creecy also claimed abandoning coal too soon could harm South Africa’s economic system.
“What will occur is the nation’s investments will become marooned. We all know there have been losers and winners in any shift.”
“It’s rarely the owners that lose; it’s usually the employees and the neighborhoods,” she explained.
If the UN wants clean energy, they must pay for it
Creecy went on to say her administration would explore plans to switch from coal to energy, such as natural gas, if investors and foreign funders were willing to fund the move.
The planners of COP26 would prefer nations that use coal avoid utilizing cleaner fossil fuels altogether and instead switch to renewable energy.
Minister @barbarapompili held talks with Minister of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries @BarbaraCreecy_ to discuss our policies on #climate #RenewableEnergy & our shared strategic interests to reach a #JustEnergyTransition. #FranceinSA. @environmentza @Ecologie_Gouv pic.twitter.com/IPO6wSBr5f
— France in S. Africa (@FrenchEmbassyZA) October 15, 2021
Creecy, like so many other politicians from developing nations, accepted the concept of “environmental justice.”
This implies affluent countries with a long tradition of industrialization, such as the United States, should pay more and reduce carbon emissions more quickly, allowing developing nations to catch up.
She claimed few African countries are ready to accept the elevated costs and lower industrial output associated with plans to drastically reduce carbon emissions by 2030 or 2040.
South Africa now relies on coal-fired power facilities for nearly all of its electricity; it has a sizable coal industry to support those facilities.
The coal sector is centered in Mpumalanga province, which would suffer the burden of the economic consequences of a rapid shift away from fossil fuels.
These consequences would entail the loss of 450,000 jobs in an area where joblessness is already at 34%.
As per environmentalists, South Africa’s infamously polluting coal power stations make it the world’s top carbon polluter per person.
Therefore, its reluctance to join the coal phase out promise will be a significant setback for COP26.