COP17 on track, says minister
Cape Town - Preparations for a UN climate change conference in Durban later this month are at an “advanced stage”, International Relations Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane said on Wednesday.
“In the main, we are happy with our state of readiness,” she told MPs in the National Assembly.
The 17th Conference of the Parties (COP17) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change will be held in Durban from November 28 to December 9.
Nkoana-Mashabane is the incoming president of COP17, while her Cabinet colleague, Water and Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa, will lead the South African delegation at the event.
Set to attract over 20,000 delegates from more than 190 countries, the conference is aimed at finding a solution to the global threat of human-made climate change.
Nkoana-Mashabane said there were “two competing visions” of what would come out of the conference.
“One vision wants to limit Durban's focus to the operationalisation (sic) of what came out of Cancun in Mexico, the venue for COP16 last year,” she said.
“The other wants it to focus on this, as well as finalisation of matters still outstanding from the Bali Road Map an attempt to implement a binding agreement on greenhouse gas emissions, adopted in Indonesia in 2007.”
Nkoana-Mashabane said Africa had singled out “adaptation, adaptation and adaptation” as a key highlight of what should come out of the Durban conference.
Speaking in the House, the Democratic Alliance's Gareth Morgan said it was the burden of the developed world to take the big cuts that would have to be made to stabilise the world's climate.
“South Africa and other emerging economies deserve the space to grow,” he said.
While there would be a big focus on making operational many of the agreements that came out of Cancun, “the big question on everyone's mind is whether there will be a second commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol”.
The first commitment period expires at the end of next year.
“This is going to be exceptionally difficult for the South African negotiators to achieve,” he said, noting that many countries, including Japan, Canada and Russia, had no interest in a second commitment period.
However, South Africa's principle negotiating position had to be “that there must be a second commitment period under Kyoto”.
Independent Democrats MP Lance Greyling said while it appeared Durban was ready to host COP17, “the real question... is whether the world is ready for COP17”.
He said the event would be the fifth COP he had attended in the past decade.
“Unfortunately, they have not left me inspired with the sense that the international community is resolute in its commitment to avoiding dangerous climate change.”
He told Nkoana-Mashabane her position as COP17 president was an unenviable one because there was a “stalemate” on many of the most pressing issues.
“However, as an African COP, we cannot compromise on the over-riding message: That we want to see a legally-binding commitment that will see real reductions in greenhouse gasses threatening the livelihoods of so many on this continent,” Greyling said. - Sapa