How Will Covid-19 Impact South Africa’s Climate Change Diplomacy?

While South Africa is recognised as a strong voice in climate change negotiations, it is certainly not the most powerful country. As such, South Africa has had a difficult balancing act to play in protecting its interests. Its approach, which has mirrored its international diplomacy more generally, has been to develop and tap into strategic alliances that support its different interests. To this end, South Africa is a member of three important negotiating blocs at the Conference of the Parties (COP), namely the G77/China, the BASIC (Brazil, South Africa, India and China) and the African Group of Negotiators. Whether or not one agrees with the interests that South Africa has sought to protect at the international climate change negotiations, it has arguably been successful in this regard. However, current shifts in global politics, as well as the projected socio-economic and potential political impact of COVID-19, are raising red flags about the longevity of the current global political system. These developments have and will continue to impede the ability of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to achieve timeous and meaningful global emissions reductions.