‘Too early to assess progress’

2011-11-30 00:00

IT’S too early to say how negotiations are going at the UN Climate Change Conference (COP17), said Edna Molewa, head of the South African delegation.

“By the end of the week we should have an idea of what’s happening in the discussions of the negotiators,” Molewa, Water and Environmental Affairs Minister, said yesterday.

“Then we will move into a high level of ministerial dialogue, which is intended to break deadlocks or explore areas where we can find each other.”

Speaking at a press conference, Molewa said the science is clear “that action to address the causes and impacts of climate change by a single country or a small group of countries will not be successful”.

Molewa said the government’s national climate change policy will guide the South African approach to climate change impacts and the transition to a climate-resilient and low-carbon economy.

Commitments to reduce emissions by 34% “relative to our business-as-usual trajectory by 2020 and 42% in 2025” will depend “on the extent to which developed countries meet their legal obligations to provide financial, capacity building, technology and transfer support through the United Nations climate change regime”.

Molewa said South Africa’s position and policy for COP17 was developed with domestic stakeholders and through engagement with “the African continent and other negotiating colleagues such as the Basic countries [Brazil, India, China and South Africa].”

She said South Africa is on a two-track system that wants agreement on the Climate Change Convention and a second period of commitment to the Kyoto Protocol.

Asked about Canada’s stated refusal to sign up for a second commitment period, Molewa said that this position, the same as Japan’s, is still a matter for negotiation. “During this coming week we will engage with those who say they are ship jumpers.”

With regard to European Union’s roadmap calling for a framework that leads to a legally binding agreement by 2015, Molewa said South Africa, with the Africa grouping, the G77 and Basic countries, thinks it is a good proposal. “But we still need to deal with all the conditions linked with that roadmap,” she said. “The first port of call is the second commitment to the Kyoto Protocol.”

She added that Brazil and Argentina have been tasked with working with the EU “to see where we can converge on the roadmap”.

Noting that the level of pledges on greenhouse gas emissions do not match the level of ambition when it comes to keeping the global temperature rise below the required 2°C, she said developing countries “must show leadership … We all need to raise the levels of ambition and the level of ­pledges”.

• feature1@witness.co.za

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