South Africa Climate Action Network Statement on COP 23

SACAN welcomes the opportunity to provide input into the COP 23 South Africa position.

The Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) deserves praise for its efforts to develop South Africa’s first climate change legislation. We commend steps taken to increase stakeholder engagement, through various committees and working groups. Much has occurred in South Africa over the last year in terms of a transition to a lower carbon economy that merits attention, and even more that will occur in the near future that will require exemplary action.  It is heartening to see so much movement on the policy and legislation front, inspired by international commitments and developed and advocated for locally by the DEA and other government departments.

South Africa’s energy system, which encompasses the whole value chain, is a major factor in climate change. Our energy choices should be made according to the dictates of not only our international commitments to reducing carbon emissions, but also under the umbrella of justice, considering both the monumental  task of alleviating energy poverty and effects of an energy transition on employment. We remain very concerned that implementation of many key policies like a just carbon tax, signing of renewable energy contracts, an ambitious mitigation trajectory for the country and sustainable long-term energy planning is not progressing as fast or ambitiously as is necessary.

We trust that going forward these processes would take on board civil society inputs as we strive together for a low carbon future. In this spirit we urge DEA, on behalf of the South African government, to consider the following inputs when considering its COP 23 position;

Immediate Action

In aggregate, current Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) are not sufficient to achieve the purpose and the long-term goals of the Paris Agreement. Currently observed  increases in temperatures and recent weather disasters around the world indicate the need for urgency in decision making and climate action. We need look no further than the droughts our own country continues to experience to get a glimpse of what a warmer future may hold.

The world and South Africa cannot wait for the global stocktake in 2023 for countries to increase ambition. If we are to have any real chance of limiting warming to 1.5°C, we need NDCs to be ramped up urgently as well as much further action in the few years remaining before 2020.

At present, not one country is ranked as a role model by the Climate Action Tracker. South Africa’s efforts are deemed to be ‘highly insufficient’. We should, obviously, aim to achieve ‘role model’ status. By undertaking mitigation action in the electricity sector as well as identified low-cost mitigation activities, South Africa can come close to achieving a fair share of international mitigation action at net negative cost. South Africa should use this framing as a benchmark for signalling an improvement in the NDC, as well as a strong negotiating stance for requiring international climate finance for developing nations. 

2018 Facilitative Dialogue

The 2018 Facilitative Dialogue (FD 2018) currently provides one of the last opportunities to start ramping up ambition to align with keeping warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius.   We call on the South African delegation to ensure that COP 23 in Bonn finalises a structure for the Dialogue so that countries can start to work collectively to identify steps they will take to close the ambition gap. Ultimately the Facilitative Dialogue must be a launchpad for countries to revise and enhance NDCs in 2019 and 2020 but it should build on the momentum built by non-state actors through initiatives like the Marrakesh Partnership for Global Climate Action.

The outputs of the dialogue have to:

  • Provide a clear assessment of the ambition gap
  • Emphasise opportunities for reducing emissions in alignment with sustainable development goals
  • Identify the finance, technology transfer and capacity building gaps that inhibit low carbon development in developing countries
  • Identify key lessons learned in the first phase of NDC development
  • Recognise countries that have already enhanced or committed to enhance their NDCs
  • Signal collective plans to enhance NDCs.


Paris Agreement Implementation Guidelines

In order to reach the 2018 deadline for the Paris Agreement Rulebook, constructive negotiations must take place in COP 23 leading to draft texts with options for all key elements. We need to have a zero draft of the rulebook at the end of COP 23, with clearly distinguished options where significant differences remain, or else we face the risk of delaying progress and being unprepared for full implementation.

Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs)

SACAN’s understanding of the NDC periodical review and subsequent application of progression is based on synchronisation of all NDCs (particularly m-NDCs) to a common 5 year timeframes. Five year commitment periods encourage early action, allow for dynamic political responses and avoid locking in low levels of ambition..

In effect the Paris Agreement keeps the length of future commitment periods open. However, it is important that a common timeframe is decided in order to create certainty and aid in the further elaboration of MPGs.. The CMA (the new body governing the Paris Agreement) in COP 22 referred the NDC timeframe issue to the SBI for further consideration and to report back to the CMA at COP 23. Five year commitment periods are an established civil society position.

Therefore the SACAN position is that South Africa must seek the following:

  • Harmonised 5-year commitment periods for the next round of NDCs starting from 2030
  • NDCs should include sectoral targets that  unlock ambition

Guidance related to NDCs must also emphasise the need for participatory design of future contributions.

Global Stocktake (GST)

The global stocktake must be designed to enable action and support to increase rapidly, taking into account collective progress and implementation gaps and opportunities, in line with the Paris Agreement’s long term goals.

The stocktake must be a collective assessment that helps individual Parties to identify next steps and  the implementation gaps to enable increased  ambition. The outcomes from these assessments should avoid being prescriptive in nature and should not infringe on national sovereignty. At the same time, they should prescribe key steps that need be taken in order to increase ambition and articulate discussions in a manner that will enable an effective follow through on their implementation.


The transparency framework as well as the process of developing it must both be transparent and inclusive. SACAN calls on Parties to allow greater input from observer organisations in the process of developing Modalities, Procedures and Guidelines (MPGs) for the transparency framework, for example through allowing submissions.


Decisions on long term finance should not only recognise the massive shortfall in current finance pledges but also the imbalance between mitigation and adaptation finance. There is also an urgent need for increased transparency in the allocation of climate finance by developed countries..

Modalities for the accounting of climate finance to be negotiated under SBSTA are crucial to build a robust transparency framework with regard to climate finance provided and mobilized. COP 23 should identify key concepts for accounting, to be included in a draft text by the end of COP 23. It should ensure reporting at project-by-project level, reporting of grant-equivalent for non-grant instruments, reporting of actual climate-specific (proportion of) funds and mutual agreement between countries about projects/funds to be included in future reports.

COP 23 should reaffirm  the urgent need for scaled up Loss and Damage finance and trigger a process to establish sources, including through innovative (notwithstanding the barriers and compromises to the polluter-pays principle in order to reach agreement on the PA at COP21) sources of finance, capable of generating resources at a scale necessary to address loss and damage in developing countries before 2020, and  after 2020, at a scale sufficient to address the problem beyond the finance provided for adaptation.   

Green Climate Fund (GCF): Call upon Parties, in particular from developed countries, to prepare a regular and predictable  replenishment of the GCF in 2018. Further urge the GCF Board to improve its attention to the most vulnerable people and strengthening the implementation of its Gender Policy and Action Plan.


In the Adaptation negotiations, Parties should establish a process  to operationalise the Global Goal on Adaptation (GGA) building on the technical work of the Adaptation Committee and others, providing recommendations by COP24 and informing the future Global Stocktake.

At COP 23 Parties should also develop guidelines which support an integrated/effective approach to communicating adaptation efforts (considering NDCs, NAPs, SDGs, Sendai), with specific attention to address actions targeting the poorest and most vulnerable people and the support required for those countries facing the brunt of climate change impacts while bearing little to none of the responsibility.

Loss and Damage (L&D) & Warsaw International Mechanism (WIM)

COP 23 under a Fijian presidency represents a stark reminder that many small island states and vulnerable communities already face climate change impacts that lead to irreversible loss and damage. In Bonn, Parties must address this issue by:

  • Adopting a five-year work plan for the Warsaw International Mechanism on Loss and Damage which includes launching the clearing house on risk transfer.
  • Adopting a concrete action plan for a mechanism to generate finance for addressing loss and damage.
  • Making progress on an insurance mechanism to assist people that face loss and damage related to climate change.
  • Address loss and damage under the Paris Agreement negotiations and as a standard agenda item under the Subsidiary Bodies and consider how to address L&D as part of the Global Stocktake.

A recognition by COP 23 that addressing loss and damage will also involve the provision of financial resources to developing countries to address the impacts of such unavoidable losses and damages, coupled with a mandate to the WIM to identify financial needs, purposes of such finance, as well as options and possible mechanisms to deliver such funds to people affected on the ground.

Stakeholder Participation

Active observer/stakeholder participation should be guaranteed during the Facilitative Dialogue’s examination of barriers to, and opportunities for, greater ambition. This could include participation in planned events and activities such as submissions, a dedicated series of side-events, and workshop slots, as well as technical and regional events.

The Transparency Framework must provide a role for CSOs both at the national and multilateral stages of the transparency process

We also call for the development of the Indigenous Peoples Platform to include the full participation of indigenous peoples representatives, and for the creation of process created to ensure integration of the IPP with key elements of climate governance including the Global Stocktake, Facilitative Dialogue, and Global Climate Action Agenda.

The adoption of the UNFCCC Gender Action Plan at COP 23 must also guarantee that the principles of gender equality and the empowerment of women as emphasised in the Paris Agreement are fully reflected across all agenda items and at all levels of climate policy.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s