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First-of-its-kind agreement sees South Africa receive $8.5bn to ditch coal at Cop26

Garnering commitments on ending coal use, a major source of emissions, is a key target for the Glasgow summit

Louise Boyle
Senior Climate Correspondent at Cop26 in Glasgow, Scotland
Tuesday 02 November 2021 15:48 GMT
Joe Biden pledges to slash global methane emissions by 30% by 2030

In a first-of-its-kind agreement, South Africa will receive around $8.5 billion from the United States and European countries to help it ditch coal, its major power source.

The funds will be provided as loans and grants over five years to help South Africa move away from coal-fired plants which power about 90 per cent of the country’s electricity.

The deal is expected to prevent up to 1-1.5 gigatonnes of emissions over the next 20 years, said a memo from the UK government, and will help South Africa achieve the goals set out in its updated Nationally Determined Contribution emissions-reduction plan.

Garnering commitments on ending coal use, a major source of carbon emissions, is a key target for the Glasgow summit.

The “Just Energy Transition Partnership” between South Africa, the UK, France, Germany and the EU was described as a potential “blueprint” for other regions, by German Environment Minister Svenja Schulze.

Part of the plan is to provide new jobs for the thousands of people who work in coal mining across South Africa, and help the country roll out alternative renewable industries.

Jesse Burton, an energy policy researcher for E3G who focuses on the South African coal sector, tweeted that it was a “first-of-its-kind agreement between a coal-intensive developing country and a group of donor governments to work together and fund a just transition away from coal”.

“This is a big deal,” she noted.

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