Just and fair climate action

Just and Fair climate action

The Prosus and Naspers sustainability team are at COP27 in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt and will co-host a roundtable titled ‘Just and Fair climate action’ on the 9th of November at 16.30 EET (15.30 CET/16.30 SAT). The session will be moderated by the Johannesburg Stock Exchange’s Shameela Ebrahim at the South Africa Business Pavilion. It will be possible to listen to the discussion via the link here.

Global Head of Sustainability at Prosus and Naspers, Prajna Khanna, shares her thoughts on what it will take for a fair transition to net zero emissions for countries in the global South.


“We are all in the same storm but not in the same boat.”

Greta Thunberg.


A bridge through a storm

Joining the throng of climate hopefuls in Sharm El-Sheik, I am reminded just how much of this UN climate summit, like every previous Conference of the Parties (COP) is – at best – a thought experiment, an interim step.

Commitments brokered here signal our common cause: every country and every company has urgent work to do in this decade to make the global goal of net zero emissions viable. But key indicators are pointing in the wrong direction.

For the global South, this implies an unavoidable consequence. Our task to deploy and scale available technologies to curb emissions is more difficult, disruptive, and often more expensive in places that are most vulnerable to global warming. 

One climate, many responses

This reality is core to any concept of climate justice. It’s recognised in the small print of the Paris Climate Agreement with an explicit commitment to “the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities” (Article 2.2).

And yet, this simple truth feels deeply counterintuitive.

The burden of reducing a carbon footprint caused predominantly by countries in the industrialised North falls heavily on regions which have contributed least to global carbon emissions – and where available resources to tackle this problem are scarce.

At Prosus and Naspers, we’re working hard to meet the detailed technical guidance by the Science-based Targets initiative (SBTi). Science-based commitments are crucial, but decoupling growth from emissions is a challenge for any business.

If circumstances were equal, the business case for decarbonisation would be less daunting. 

If circumstances were equal, the business case for decarbonisation would be less daunting.  Circumstances are not equal. Our portfolio spans segments, including food delivery and online classifieds, from Brazil to Romania to South Africa. That’s difficult. Each business is at a different stage of maturity in climate action – and the options available to them vary according to the local operating environment and energy mix of the country.

The threat from climate breakdown is planetary. Existential. But an effective response ultimately requires a reckoning with history. We need to understand the unequal responsibility for historical emissions: that’s happening. We need a differentiated response, recognising the varying capabilities (policies, knowledge, technology) that corporate actors must navigate.

Any credible commitment to a “just transition” must reckon with the actual costs of capital to fund decarbonisation.

Ambition and justice

We talk about a ‘just transition’. From where we are now, this is a big concept to pin down. The employment, growth and productivity gains from the energy transition are real and a humanitarian priority.

Charting the practical steps to unlock that opportunity is doubly daunting in places where the relative costs are starkly unequal.

Every credible plan for net zero depends on ambitious companies in (increasingly) fragile economies to meet the same science-based targets as their peers in wealthier nations. The point, of course, is not to reduce ambition but to understand and support policy and financing measures that enable companies to act. 

This may seem obvious, but it’s inherently counterintuitive.

Article 2.2 of the Paris Agreement acknowledges the unequal responsibility for historical emissions. Or as Greta Thunberg, the teenage climate activist who castigated global climate summits for their ineffectual “blah blah blah”, argues in her new book: we are all in the same storm but not in the same boat.

If we are serious about this “decade of action” – the exhortation from last year’s Glasgow COP – global policy must respond pragmatically to the formidable, varied obstacles that corporate actors are trying to navigate in different regions. Before we, climate hopefuls, fly home to our old economy lives.


About Naspers 

Established in 1915, Naspers has transformed itself to become a global consumer internet company and one of the largest technology investors in the world. Through Prosus, the group operates and invests globally in markets with long-term growth potential, building leading consumer internet companies that empower people and enrich communities. Prosus has its primary listing on Euronext Amsterdam, and a secondary listing on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange and Naspers is the majority owner of Prosus. 

In South Africa, Naspers is one of the foremost investors in the technology sector and is committed to building its internet and ecommerce companies. These include Takealot, Mr D Food, Superbalist, Autotrader, Property24 and PayU, in addition to Media24, South Africa’s leading print and digital media business. 

Naspers has a primary listing on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (NPN.SJ), a secondary listing on the A2X Exchange (NPN.AJ) in South Africa, and has a level 1 American Depository Receipt (ADR) programme which trades on an over-the-counter basis in the United States of America.

For more information, please visit www.naspers.com

Naspers Foundry 

Naspers is also focused on stimulating South Africa’s local tech sector through Naspers Foundry. This is a R1.4 billion investment vehicle that invests in early-stage technology companies that seek to address big societal needs. 

Naspers Labs 

In 2019, Naspers Labs, a youth development programme designed to transform and launch South Africa’s unemployed youth into economic activity, was launched. Naspers Labs focuses on digital skills and training, enabling young people to pursue tech careers. 

Naspers for Good 

Naspers employees is equally committed to giving back. Naspers for Good is a corporate philanthropy fund administered by a committee of employees in South Africa. Through the fund, Naspers forms partnerships with organisations that have a proven track record of delivering solutions for the most pressing challenges affecting our communities. Email [email protected] for more information. 

Response to COVID-19

Naspers contributed R1.5 billion of emergency aid to support the South African government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. This contribution consisted of R500 million towards the Solidarity Fund and R1 billion worth of PPE sourced and distributed to South Africa’s front-line healthcare workers. In addition, Naspers contributed R6.9 million to the Nelson Mandela Foundation's EachOne FeedOne programme to support families who COVID-19 has impacted with meals for a year.