Climate talks not like soccer, says Zuma

2011-12-06 10:57

The climate talks in Durban should not be like the soccer World Cup where only a few teams qualified and there was only one winner, President Jacob Zuma said today.

Countries should rise above national interests when negotiating about what needed to be done to deal with climate change, he said.

“This event is not like the 2010 Fifa Soccer World Cup tournament that we proudly hosted, where only a few soccer teams qualified, with one ultimate winner,” Zuma said.

Speaking during the high-level dialogue and round table on global sustainability in a changing climate, Zuma said all countries had qualified to participate in the COP-17 talks and all should emerge as winners.

“According to your programme, you will continue with extensive deliberations on possible solutions for what we need to do now and what we agree to do in the future.”

It was important for countries to think beyond their national interests during negotiations no matter how difficult that may be.

Developing countries feared their economic development could be hampered by countries which had contributed immensely to the concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

The global emissions of greenhouse gases from the developing countries were growing rapidly, Zuma said.

“The developed world must continue to take the lead. On the other hand, the developing countries must show a willingness to take their fair share of responsibilities.”

South Africa believed that without a multilateral rules-based system there would be no guarantee that countries would honour their commitments to reducing emissions that caused climate change.

The discussion was attended by scientists, heads of states and Jean Ping, the chairperson of the Commission of the African Union.

Zuma said it was important that the level of ambition on dealing with climate change should correspond to the demands of science.

“Any agreement on a future response should also take into account what science prescribes, as well as the outcome of the 5th report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.”

Before Zuma’s address, Professor Johan Rockstrom, chairperson of the third Nobel Laureate symposium on global sustainability, painted a gloomy picture of the effects of climate change.

He said there would be huge chaos if climate change was not addressed, and poor countries would be the hardest hit.

Rockstrom said it was unfair that the developed countries, which were regarded as major contributors to emissions, would be the least vulnerable to effects of climate change.

Climate change would increase drought in Africa which would lead to poverty and the monsoon rains would be disrupted, making people unable to predict the weather. 

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