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Remarks by President Ramaphosa to the Presidential Climate Commission on the Just Energy Transition Investment Plan

Fellow Commissioners,
 
Exactly one year ago to this day, I addressed a special session at COP26 in Glasgow on ‘Accelerating a Just and Inclusive Energy Transition’.
 
I said then that while the energy transition is necessary for reducing global carbon emissions, this transition must also be fair and just.
 
That commitment to a just transition has remained at the very centre of our agenda as government, and indeed in the work of this Commission.
 
As we gather here today, our country is confronted with three interrelated crises.
 
We face a shortfall in electricity supply, which has caused our economy immense damage and destroyed jobs and livelihoods.
 
We face unacceptable levels of poverty, unemployment and inequality, which strain the fabric of our society.
 
And we face the critical and urgent threat of climate change, the effects of which we are already experiencing in South Africa and around the world.
 
We must confront and overcome these challenges, not only for our own sake but for the sake of future generations.
 
Today, on the threshold of COP27, we are releasing South Africa’s Just Energy Transition Investment Plan.
 
This plan outlines the scale of need and the investments required to achieve our decarbonisation commitments.
 
And to do so while promoting sustainable development and ensuring a just transition for affected workers and communities.
 
The Investment Plan provides us with a blueprint to address these three challenges, recognising that they are inseparable.
 
It is about addressing the global risks of climate change while creating jobs and driving more rapid and inclusive economic growth.
 
The Investment Plan was developed in a process that demonstrated country-ownership and -leadership, and ensured careful regard to South Africa’s ambitions and priorities.
 
It includes a portfolio of investments across three priority sectors – the electricity sector, green hydrogen and new energy vehicles – as well as initiatives to ensure a just transition.
 
The plan is firmly rooted in the Just Transition Framework which was developed through widespread consultation, conducted by this Commission, with communities and organisations across the country and adopted by Cabinet in August this year.
 
This framework stresses that workers and communities must share in the benefits of the climate transition and the creation of new industries and jobs if we are to fulfil our commitment of leaving no one behind.
 
The Investment Plan indicates that South Africa will require approximately R1.5 trillion over the next five years to enable a just transition and achieve the ambitious targets we have set out in our Nationally Determined Contribution.
 
This includes investing in our transmission and distribution networks in areas such as the Northern Cape; expanding renewable energy sources to achieve energy security; building local production capacity and infrastructure in new sectors such as green hydrogen and electric vehicles; and investing in local economies to develop skills and enable economic diversification.
 
This Investment Plan is the first of its kind globally, in both scale and ambition.
 
It provides a vision of a future South Africa which is a leading player in a new low-carbon global economy.
 
In developing our Investment Plan, we consulted many stakeholders and involved relevant technical experts on the needs of key societal groups, such as youth, business, civil society, labour, faith-based groups and local government.
 
These engagements will continue during the implementation phase of the Investment Plan.
 
The quality of this plan is testament to the deep knowledge, expertise and capability that exists in our country, in civil society, in academia, and elsewhere.
 
I wish to thank the Inter-Ministerial Committee under the leadership of Ministers Gungubele, Creecy, Mantashe, Godongwana, Patel, Gordhan and Pandor.
 
They have provided political leadership to the Presidential Climate Finance Task Team, led by Mr Daniel Mminele, the secretariat for the Just Energy Transition Partnership, led by Ms Joanne Yawitch, and the many individuals and organisations that have contributed over the past year to this effort.
 
Achieving the pathway set out in the Investment Plan will require substantial financial support from developed economies as part of their global financing obligations.
 
The plan makes it clear that the scale of funding required to achieve South Africa’s ambition is significantly greater than the funding that has been offered through the Just Energy Transition Partnership that we launched together with our international partners at COP26.
 
We are working with our international partners to identify additional funding and financing sources to meet outstanding needs.
 
While the initial funding committed by partner countries will play an important catalytic role, it is not sufficient to match the scale of our ambition.
 
Supporting a just transition requires adequate financial support that must include a significantly larger grant funding component to ensure the implementation of active labour market policies, reskilling and upskilling as well as the creation of new industries on a considerable scale.
 
I will be communicating with the leaders of the United States, United Kingdom, Germany and France to garner additional grant funding to support our plan.
 
Our path towards a just energy transition cannot be separated from the need to deliver real progress and practical climate actions on the priority issues for Africa and other developing economies.
 
We need to see significant progress on adaptation, mitigation and support for loss and damage.
 
We have an obligation to hold developed economies accountable by making sure they honour the financial commitments they undertook in the Paris Agreement to donate $100 billion per annum to the climate transition in developed economies.
 
The key challenge for South Africa and our sister countries on the continent is access to new, at-scale and predictable funding that does not further exacerbate the debt crisis.
 
We are pleased with the level of interest already shown by other countries in supporting South Africa’s energy transition journey.
 
We are at an advanced stage of engagement with other Governments beyond the International Partners Group and are looking to progressing discussions with other interested parties.
 
We are also encouraged by the level of interest from philanthropic organisations and are looking forward to working with them.
 
By releasing this plan, we are placing the ball firmly in the court of the international community.
 
No-one can doubt our boldness, our level of ambition or our commitment to doing our part to address the global challenge of climate change.
 
Following the launch of the Investment Plan, an implementation plan will be developed to maintain momentum and ensure we deliver on our commitment.
 
As was the case with the Investment Plan, the implementation plan will be led by the South African government and our social partners.
 
It will be developed in accordance with our self-determined climate policy goals as outlined in our NDC, so as to ensure a structured, phased and well-sequenced transition process.
 
What remains is to ensure that we have the support, the funding and the capability to translate this vision into a reality.
 
This task will require strong collaboration among all of us as South Africans.
 
It will require ongoing engagement, to continually strengthen and adapt the plan as a living document that serves the interests of the people of this country.
 
It will need each of us to play our part.
 
Let us take the next step on this long journey with determination, with hope and with solidarity.
 
I thank you.