President Cyril Ramaphosa did the optics well last week at COP27. He looked at ease as he made small talk with John Kerry, Rishi Sunak, Emmanuel Macron and Ursula von der Leyen during a Just Energy Transition Investment Plan (JET-IP) meeting in Sharm El-Sheikh, but his bonhomie with Western leaders isn’t the show of strength he would like us to think it is.

The reality of their dynamic was more apparent in the terms laid out in the sovereign loans made by the French and German public development banks announced two days later. In a carefully worded media release the National Treasury highlighted how “highly concessionary” the €300m of climate-linked loans are, possibly hoping no-one would notice that the loans are also “non-earmarked budget financing” that will be “transferred directly into the National Revenue Fund”...

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