South Africa seeks cabinet approval for a $8.5 billion climate plan to reduce coal use

In order to secure funding from some of the world’s wealthiest nations, South Africa’s government will seek cabinet approval for a $8.5 billion plan to transition away from the use of coal to generate electricity.

According to Vincent Magwenya, a spokesman for South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, a second draught of the investment plan has been completed and is being shared with “key stakeholders” before being submitted to cabinet.

The development is a significant step toward completing the pact with the funding partners – the United Kingdom, the United States, Germany, France, and the European Union – that was first announced at the COP26 international climate summit in Glasgow last year.

The plan “outlines the investments required to achieve South Africa’s ambitious climate targets,” Magwenya said in a response to a query. “The objective remains to complete this process by COP27,” which will take place in Egypt in November, he said.

South Africa’s landmark climate finance agreement has been hailed as a model for assisting other coal-dependent developing countries in transitioning to cleaner energy, with Indonesia and Vietnam among the nations set to sign similar agreements. Its fate could have repercussions at COP27, which is expected to focus on the needs of poorer countries adapting to global warming.

The plan outlines how the funds will be spent, with the investment partners focusing on converting coal-fired power plants owned by state utility Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd. to produce renewable energy. South Africa is also advocating for funding to support the development of green hydrogen and electric vehicle industries.

People familiar with the discussions previously told Bloomberg News that the plan had been submitted but declined to say what was in it because no public announcement had been made.

The funding talks have stalled in recent weeks, with US Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry urging President Ramaphosa to move forward with the agreement and South African Environment Minister Barbara Creecy bemoaning its complexity.

South Africa is the world’s 13th largest source of climate-warming greenhouse gases, relying on coal for more than 80% of its electricity.

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