Mashabane: Trust is the real issue

2011-11-29 00:00

TRUST is the real issue at the United Nations Climate Change conference (COP17).

That was the message from Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, South Africa’s minister of International Relations and Co-operation, who was confirmed as president of COP17 yesterday.

She said COP17 is an ideal opportunity to strengthen the still fragile trust achieved between negotiating parties at COP16 in Cancun following the near breakdown at Copenhagen’s COP15.

“The trust deficit needs to be overcome”, she said, adding that there is a need for a “balanced, fair and credible outcome” to COP17.

While Nkoana-Mashabane said she is under no illusion this would be an easy process, she is optimistic that conference will produce an agreement.

“We need to show the world we are ready to tackle problems in a practical manner. COP17 will decide the fate of a second commitment period to the Kyoto Protocol,” said Nkoana-Mashabane.

“If a solution is not found to that it will be difficult to resolve other matters — a solution must be found. We can’t depend on voluntary domestic measures.

“Developing countries need to be reassured that developed countries will keep their promises,” she said.

“Durban is the place where this reassurance can be given and the fragile trust building process be continued.”

The fragile nature of that trust is demonstrated by the U.S. who look to be standing on the sidelines when it comes to any legally binding agreement.

Jonathan Pershing, head of the U.S. delegation during this first week of the conference, said that as the U.S. has not ratified the Kyoto Protocol, they would not be party to the debate around the issue of a second commitment period.

With regard to the EU’s proposal for a roadmap leading to a binding legal agreement by 2015, Pershing said the U.S. would have to “learn more about content before we commit to any legal form”. He emphasised any such agreement “must apply fully to all significant players”.

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