News24

SA delegation locked out

2009-12-16 22:21

Johannesburg - Some members of the South African delegation to the UN climate summit in Copenhagen, Denmark, were locked out and could not access the main conference venue on Wednesday, President Jacob Zuma's spokesperson, Vincent Magwenya said.

"Danish authorities locked us and some NGOs as well as media representatives out of the conference due to a protest that was taking place outside the conference venue," said Magwenya.

He said he was with Steyn Speed, communications chief director in the presidency, and the chief of state protocol, Ambassador Lucas Mahlasela Makhubela.

"For an hour we were locked outside in sub-zero temperatures.

"For a while, no-one communicated with us at all...and when people started pushing and getting restless, they said they were blocking us because of the protest," said Magwenya.

They were eventually let in.

Meanwhile, Johannesburg Mayor Amos Masondo on Wednesday joined local government leaders from 80 cities present at the climate talks in their quest for the consideration of cities in a future climate deal.

A wing of the Government Communication and Information System, Bua News, said Masondo joined New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Boris Johnson of London, Toronto's David Miller and others at the conference that sought to find lasting solutions to the imminent catastrophic climate change.

Urban areas were said to account for at least two-thirds of CO2 emissions and Johannesburg, being SA's economic hub with the largest population in the country, was also the biggest emitter of greenhouse gases responsible for climate change.

"We have come here to add our voices to ensure that we are part of the solution," Masondo said.

He said there was a need for community participation in curbing climate change because it directly affected local people.

"It is our view that this battle has to be won or lost at local level," he said.

Masondo called on leaders at the summit to do everything possible to empower local governments to enable them to better respond to the challenges of climate change.

The City of Johannesburg wants to plant more than 200 000 trees by June next year.

Masondo said the city was on right track to meet that target including that of a massive reducing of greenhouse gas emission by at the beginning of 2020.