‘The war crime against innocent Palestinians must be ended now,’ Ramaphosa tells COP28

01 December 2023 - 18:20
By Amanda Khoza
President Cyril Ramaphosa delivers a national statement at the World Climate Action Summit during the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP28) in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
Image: Amr Alfiky/Reuters President Cyril Ramaphosa delivers a national statement at the World Climate Action Summit during the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP28) in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

President Cyril Ramaphosa on Friday used the UN Conference of Parties (COP28) meeting to highlight the plight of the Palestinian people. 

He told world leaders gathered in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) that the world climate action summit was taking place at a time when most of the world was in turmoil. 

South Africa is appalled at the cruel tragedy that is under way in Gaza. The war against the innocent people of Palestine is a war crime that must be ended now. South Africa has referred this matter to the ICC and we urge the court to act speedily to save lives.”

He said the people of Palestine deserved and must have their own state where they can finally live in peace.

Despite the challenges, Ramaphosa said the fight against climate change must not lose momentum because African countries were among the most vulnerable to the effects of the changes and had to adapt to them with limited resources.

“As South Africa, we applaud the landmark decision of COP28 to operationalise the new fund on loss and damage and welcome the pledges that have already been made.” 

He said if the fund is to effectively support those countries most vulnerable to the effects of climate change, “we need to mobilise funding on a far greater scale”.

The work programme on national and international just transitions involving society and encompassing all areas of the economy must also be launched. 

“What is decided at COP28 needs to be guided by science, equity and the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities. Climate action is key to South Africa’s sustainable development agenda,” he said. 

Ramaphosa told business leaders, civil society and environmental activists South Africa has approved the implementation of the country’s Just Energy Transition Investment Plan.

“This plan focuses on areas critical to a just transition, including investment in electricity infrastructure, new energy vehicles, green hydrogen, skills development, municipal electricity distribution, and interventions directed at communities most affected by the energy transition.”

He added South Africa has “a successful renewable energy power producers programme” that plays a key role in supporting the country’s decarbonisation efforts. 

“There are also promising developments under way in our country to harness the potential of green hydrogen, and to beneficiate critical minerals and rare earths in support of development and driving the green transition.”

He said multilateralism must remain central to global climate action because “unilateral, coercive and trade-distorting measures such as carbon adjustment measures are detrimental to developing economies”.

Innovative financing instruments, such as special drawing rights, were needed to ensure that funding did not increase the debt burden of countries struggling to service their debt.

“There can be no substitute for new predictable at-scale and appropriate public finance to help developing economy countries build climate resilience. Access to finance, skills transfer and technology is key. 

“Climate change adaptation and mitigation technologies should be regarded as a global public good. We need to support the right of each country to determine its own developmental trajectory, and provide the necessary space to bring it to fruition.”