UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon meeting President Jacob Zuma at the COP17/CMP7 Conference in Durban06/12/2011

Melanie Gosling

DURBAN: President Jacob Zuma urged world governments to put aside national interests and work towards finding real solutions to climate change in the interests of humanity.

At the high-level plenary session of COP17 yesterday, attended by 12 heads of state and 130 government ministers, Zuma called on delegates to make the right decisions in the deal they thrashed out at the conference and not to disappoint the “citizens of the globe”.

“We are all agreed the Earth is in danger. We are all agreed we must do something about it. The problem is when we say ‘what’ and ‘how’. The world is looking at us with hope that we will be able to take decisions which help save the globe – for ourselves and for coming generations,” Zuma said.

Delegates needed to rekindle trust between nations if they were to find solutions for the problems caused by climate change. The time had come to move to action and implementation and to raise the level of ambition of all countries to do more.

Developed countries would have to take the lead in addressing climate change, in reducing greenhouse gases, and in providing support to developing countries to tackle climate change, he said.

Developed countries had benefited from high levels of greenhouse gas emissions to reach their own level of development. It was only fair that developing countries be provided with “developmental space” so they too may develop and eradicate poverty.

Zuma said the Durban conference was a “decisive moment”. The first period of the Kyoto protocol was about to end and how it was to continue had not been resolved. If it were not resolved, other matters COP had to tackle would become extremely difficult.

In a reference to Japan, Canada and Russia saying they would bail out of the protocol, Zuma urged those countries which were bound by the Kyoto protocol to implement the commitments they had agreed to in previous years, and for “all of these to share the load”.

UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon told delegates while the ultimate goal of getting a legally-binding agreement at Durban might be beyond their reach now, this should not prevent the conference making real progress in the many other areas under negotiation.

“Without exaggeration, I can say the future of the planet is at stake… We are nearing a point of no return and must pull back from the abyss,” Ban said.

Everyone recognised the reality of the time, the economic crisis and the differing domestic policies of nations.

“Yet, the world cannot accept an answer ‘no’ from Durban. Now is the time for Durban.

“Now is the time to be ambitious. It is not the first time we’ve been confronted by sceptics and nay-sayers and showed they were wrong. Let us not falter,” Ban said.

l See Gosling’s daily Cop17 blog on the website: www.cape times.co.za