European Union Ambassador to South Africa, Sandra Kramer

South Africa and the European Union (EU) are united in their goal to accelerate action against climate change, while ensuring that the necessary switch to a net-zero economy that this encompasses is a just energy transition, said Sandra Kramer, EU Ambassador to South Africa.

“Through our Team Europe approach, we are committed to partnering with South Africa to combat climate change and unlock a sustainable, biodiversity-friendly and circular economy … The EU and its Member States are with you for climate action and to bring growth and jobs. We are here for the long haul and we invite you to take the journey together [with us],” Kramer said.

She announced that the EU’s focus on working with African nations to combat climate change was bolstered by an agreement reached earlier this year between the EU and the African Union (AU): the Global Gateway Africa–Europe Investment Package. Through this package, Team Europe (the EU, its Member States, its development finance institutions and its private sector) will mobilise R2.67-trillion in investments by 2027.

“The Global Gateway, through the Africa-EU Green Energy Initiative, is supporting Africa’s ambition to increase the energy-generation capacity on the continent by adding at least 300 gigawatts (GW) of renewable energy by 2030. This includes EU investments into the Southern Africa power pool and regional transmissions.”

At the 2022 United Nations climate change talks (COP27) in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, South Africa and its Just Energy Transition Partnership fellows - the EU, the United Kingdom, the United States, Germany and France - unveiled a detailed plan on how they propose to use the $8.5-billion the developed nations in this group pledged towards South Africa’s transition to a low-carbon economy. This deal was announced at the 2021 climate change talks (COP26), and is “first and foremost” for the benefit of the South African people, Kramer said.

Also at COP27, a new €400-million Team Europe financing programme was announced to support the Development Bank of Southern Africa’s renewable energy embedded generation investment programme. This is the largest European Investment Bank investment in South Africa to date.

Another aspect of the climate-combating alliance between the EU and South Africa would be announced by the EU at COP27 on 16 November, Kramer said. She was referring to the Team Europe Initiative on Climate Change Adaptation and Resilience in Africa, which is aimed at finding new ways to address Africa’s growing adaptation and disaster risk reduction needs, aligned with the AU’s priorities in this arena.

Furthermore, the EU would provide external funding for biodiversity between 2021 and 2027: the Team Europe Initiative on Climate Change Adaptation and Resilience in Africa.

In addition, it was announced by Ursula von der Leyen, President of the EU Commission, that the EU’s funding for biodiversity protection would increase to €7-billion between 2021 and 2027. And a new EU Action Plan Against Wildlife Trafficking “proposes more avenues for international collaborations”, Kramer said.