Global support for fighting climate change continues to grow, with South Africa joining more than 90 other nations on November 2 in ratifying the landmark Paris Agreement to cut greenhouse gas emissions and expand clean energy worldwide. South Africa’s move comes just two days before the agreement officially enters into force on November 4, signaling the beginning of a new era of international cooperation and commitment to solve the climate crisis transforming our planet.
While world leaders signing the agreement will make the headlines, the real story is the overwhelming popular support for bold action on climate that pushed policymakers to reach the historic deal last December. Witnessing the emergence of a powerful citizen movement for change and recognizing South Africa’s central role in the Paris negotiations, The Climate Reality Project held its 24th Climate Reality Leadership Corps training in Johannesburg in March 2014. At the training, former US Vice President Al Gore and science and policy experts from around the world trained local activists to raise awareness of climate change and organize their communities to demand action in Paris and at home. Along with the event in Johannesburg, recent trainings in Brazil, India, Canada, and the US helped create the global community of activists rallying communities and pressuring world leaders to act that proved so instrumental in the eventual success in Paris. The Climate Reality Project’s branch in Africa, the African Climate Reality Project, released a statement on South Africa formally joining the Paris Agreement.
“The African Climate Reality Project congratulates the South African government on formally joining the Paris Agreement. We welcome this decision a few days before the agreement enters into force on November 4, 2016, as it resolutely sets the country to implement urgently-needed mitigation and adaptation measures to build a low-carbon, climate-resilient and inclusive future.
“However, we concur with the scientific analysis pointing to the fact that South Africa’s commitment to reducing carbon emissions proposed in its Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC), is not consistent with limiting global warming to below 2 degrees Celsius – let alone 1.5 degrees Celsius – as pledged under the Paris Agreement. To truly do its part to help mitigate global climate change, South Africa needs to curb its emissions much sooner and much more drastically than is currently proposed.
“Thus, The African Climate Reality Project calls on the country to review and set more ambitious emissions reduction targets. This review process should be undertaken without delay, in a transparent and inclusive fashion together with relevant research, industry, and civil society players.
“Simultaneously, The African Climate Reality Project encourages the South African government to create an even more conducive environment for the further deployment of renewable energy, particularly of wind and solar power. We also call on the government to review the current Integrated Resource Plan for Electricity (IRP) 2010–2030 in favor of a swift and well-planned phase out from coal generation and full transition to low-carbon energy generation by 2030.”