President Cyril Ramaphosa has called on countries to work together to create a climate resilient world.
"Amongst other things, we should ensure that as we transit to a more climate resilient future, it must be based on a just transition that ensures that those who are most vulnerable in society do not get left behind, "Ramaphosa said on Thursday.
Addressing the Leaders’ Summit on Climate, the President emphasised the importance of advancing all three of the goals of the Paris Agreement – mitigation, adaptation and finance with equal determination and ambition.
The President said there must be a massive drive to scale up support in the form of financing, technology and capacity building, so that developing economies, including those in Africa, are able to enhance ambition on adaptation and mitigation.
"It is important that aid on climate change should be provided separately, and should not be part of conventional development assistance. When it is given in the form of loan financing, the debt burden of developing countries is worsened," said Ramaphosa in his virtual address.
He encouraged developed economies, which historically bear the greatest responsibility for emissions, to meet their responsibilities to developing economies.
"This will be vital to restoring the bonds of trust between developed and developing economies. Climate change is the most pressing issue of our time.
"It is a global phenomenon to which developing economies are particularly vulnerable. Without effective adaptation, climate change has the potential to reverse the developmental gains in our countries, and push millions of people further into poverty."
Ramaphosa said poor countries have historically contributed the least to emissions.
"Developing countries often suffer the most from the devastating effects of climate change in the form of drought, extreme storms and rising sea levels.
"Consequently, developed economies have a responsibility to support developing economies to enable them to mitigate and adapt to climate change. Significant progress can be made when we all honour our mutual commitments," he said.
He also noted the importance of multilateralism in ensuring the full implementation of the United Nations (UN) Framework Convention on Climate Change.
"South Africa is fully committed to enhancing its ambition and accelerating its climate actions. Last year we finalised our National Climate Change Adaptation Strategy, coordinating adaptation actions at all levels of government," the President said.
In addition, the country has adopted a Low Emissions Development Strategy in pursuit of a just transition to a low-carbon, sustainable, and climate resilient development pathway.
"We are currently in the process of updating South Africa's Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC). Our new NDC target ranges have been released for public consultation.
"The new target ranges we are proposing are much more ambitious in two respects. First, the top of the 2030 range has been reduced by 28%, or 174 million metric tons, a very significant reduction," the President said.
"When it is given in the form of loan financing the debt burden of developing countries is worsened," said the president.
According to South Africa’s previous NDC, the emissions would peak and plateau in 2025, and decline only from 2035.
"South Africa's emissions will begin to decline from 2025, effectively shifting our emissions decline 10 years earlier," said the President.
With regard to the country’s energy resources, South Africa plans to build capacity to generate over 17 gigawatts of renewable energy by 2030.
"We remain committed to contributing our fair share to reduce global emissions, and to do so in the context of overcoming poverty, inequality and underdevelopment, "said Ramaphosa.