Climate finance tops list for eThekwini

Residents of Durban’s Cato Crest sift through mountains of debris to try to recover belongings washed away by flood waters in July. Picture: Doctor Ngcobo

Residents of Durban’s Cato Crest sift through mountains of debris to try to recover belongings washed away by flood waters in July. Picture: Doctor Ngcobo

Published Dec 2, 2023


Durban — The eThekwini Municipality says reaching global consensus on climate finance at this year’s COP28 gathering will be a major breakthrough for cities already experiencing the devastating impacts of climate change.

A series of natural disasters such as drought, flooding, earthquakes and runaway fires around the world have paved the road to this year’s COP28, the UN Climate Change Conference in Dubai.

“We hope for the prioritisation of direct access to climate funds for cities to allow for the now-critical adaptation efforts to be implemented on a wide scale to build resilience of our infrastructure and properties to climate disasters. We also hope for a loss and damage fund that can be directly accessed by city citizens so they can quickly recover from climate disasters,” said municipal spokesperson Gugu Sisilana.

She said Durban learned how the floods in April last year and the tornado this July became a “deadly disaster” for the poor and marginalised.

“The will to act is there but what is lacking is funds for adaptation efforts as promised in the Paris Agreement,” said Sisilana.

The link between food systems and climate change has a key place, for the first time, on the COP agenda.

Given the dire impact of climate change on livelihoods and food security, delegates will push for the transformation of the food system, with 100 world leaders expected to sign the Emirates Declaration on Sustainable Agriculture, Resilient Food Systems and Climate Action.

A field of sunflowers dead because of drought. COP28 plans to push for a transformation of the food system to become more resilient to climate change. Picture: Alain Pitton/Reuters

Conference president Sultan Ahmed al-Jaber called on delegates to rise above their differences and stay laser focused on their north star to cap global warming at 1.5C.

“All of us want and need the same things; clean air, clean water, healthy food,” he said at the opening.

Tons of climate-friendly food, two thirds of all meals, will be served to delegates to illustrate how switching to plant-based menus will ensure there is less hunger in the world.

Devex, an online publication that focuses on development issues, says at least 555 food and land-use events will take place at the summit. There will also be a dedicated Food, Agriculture and Water Day and a Climate4Food pavilion.

ProVeg, an organisation that advocates for plant-based diets, says everyone can play a role in mitigating the effects of climate change by changing what they eat.

Spokesperson Wikus Engelbrecht said the food system was responsible for more than a third of global greenhouse gas emissions, but its impact was overshadowed by issues like transport, energy and industrial manufacturing.

“The global food system has a pivotal role to play in the net zero transition. The industrial rearing of livestock is a major driver of climate change. The large-scale production and processing of animal feed, such as soya and corn, can be the product of mass deforestation, and the journey from industrial farm to plate pumps harmful emissions into the atmosphere.”

Chantal van der Watt, a director at PwC Global, said while Africa was a minor contributor to global emissions, the continent would be harshly affected by climate-related issues like floods, droughts, import tariffs and changing market conditions.

PwC, which provides assurance, advisory and tax services to organisations globally, is part of the South African government’s COP delegation.

Van der Watt said the main challenge was how all the different agendas would come together and then find enough consensus to move forward.

“We really have enjoyed engaging with other organisations locally that have a passionate desire to see faster acceleration. And we want to be part of the solution ourselves, have our own net zero journey that we are on as part of our network. So we really do see business as a key partner.”

Independent on Saturday