Southern African News Features                                           SANF 11 No 21, August 2011
Pro-active approach needed for SADC to access climate funding
 

One of the major decisions to come out of the ongoing climate change negotiations has been the need to establish a Green Climate Fund (GCF).

The fund is expected to raise and disburse about US$100 billion a year by 2020, starting with US$30 billion from 2012 to support mitigation and adaptation actions in developing countries.

Although there has been some scepticism about the magnitude of the figures and the conditions to access the funds, the GCF represents another step closer to addressing climate change in developing countries, particularly in Africa.

Southern Africa stands to benefit from the fund if the region adopts a pro-active approach to access the adaptation finance.

This approach may include early preparation such as starting to identify projects that would be suitable for financing under the GCF.

The region stands a better chance of accessing the fund if it identifies projects with a regional appeal instead of individual country projects that do not promote regional integration.

The Inga hydropower station in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Mphanda Nkuwa hydropower project in Mozambique and the Kudu gas project in Namibia are practical examples of regional projects that have the capacity of attracting funding under the GCF.

The Inga hydropower project, for instance, has the potential to produce about 40,000 megawatts of electricity, enough to meet most of the current power needs for the region.

Co-chair of the Transitional Committee of the GCF, Trevor Manuel said a pro-active approach would boost southern Africa’s chances of accessing climate funding.

“Sometimes we do not push hard enough,” Manuel said, adding that a number of funds had been put in place yet Africa had benefited little because no concrete plans were put forward.

Manuel, who was appointed co-chair of the Transitional Committee early this year, said the adaptation funding should also be able to deal with some of the infrastructure issues in the region.

The Transitional Committee was set up to develop a proposal for the operational of the GCF. It is made up of 40 members, 25 of which come from developing countries and 15 from developed countries.

For the SADC region, three countries are represented in the committee. These are the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) (on behalf of the Africa Group), South Africa (the incoming COP Presidency) and Zambia (for the Least Developed Countries).

With a significantly high representation in the Transitional Committee, southern Africa is, therefore, expected to take advantage of its presence to encourage member states to increase their uptake of climate projects.

This is in light of a handful of SADC projects that are registered under various climate funds such as the Kyoto Clean Development Mechanism, commonly known as CDM.

According to available data, southern Africa has benefited the least among all regions of the continent from the US$7 billion annual CDM market.

South Africa accounts for the majority of the projects, followed by the United Republic of Tanzania, DRC, Madagascar, Mauritius and Mozambique.

This is in spite of about 19,000 MW of generation projects that could be commissioned under the CDM in the region, according to an analysis by SADC.

As plans are now at an advanced stage to establish the GCF, southern Africa should intensify its efforts to benefit from the climate finance.

The GCF is expected to be launched at the forthcoming 17th Conference of the Parties (COP17) climate change talks scheduled for Cape Town, South Africa in November-December.

The board of the GCF would consist of 24 members, with equal representation of developing and developed countries, and supported by an independent secretariat to administer the funds. The World Bank would serve as interim trustee for the first three years.

The establishment of the GCF was initiated at the last climate change conference held in Cancun, Mexico, last year.

This was in recognition that developing countries are the worst affected by climate change because of their levels of poverty and low capacity to adapt.

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