SA sets achievable goals for COP 17

24 November 2011

While it is unlikely that a legally binding deal on reducing carbon emissions will be struck, COP 17 should build on the Bali Roadmap and put into effect the Cancun Agreements, says Edna Molewa, leader of South Africa’s negotiating team at the UN climate summit.

With the 17th Conference of the Parties (COP 17) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change set to kick off in Durban on Monday, the South African negotiating team is putting the finishing touches to its preparatory work for the critical gathering.

Environmental and Water Affairs Minister Edna Molewa and her International Relations and Cooperation counterpart, Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, told journalists in Durban on Wednesday that the country was ready to host the event, which will see over 20 000 delegates descend on Durban.

While Molewa leads SA’s negotiating team, Nkoana-Mashabane will be taking over as president of COP 17.

No legally binding outcome likely

Molewa’s team has overseen the development, compilation and lobbying of the South African COP 17 negotiation position, through wide consultation with stakeholders including academics, business and non-profit organisations.

The primary objective of the conference would be to reach an agreement on how effectively to tackle climate change at a global level in a fair manner, thus addressing the threats it posed to human development and growth, Molewa said.

She said no legally binding agreement would likely be reached on cutting down on emissions, and the outcome should rather build on the Bali Roadmap of 2007 as well as put into effect the Cancun Agreements of 2010.

Cancun Agreements, Bali Roadmap

President Jacob Zuma, outlining South Africa’s vision for the conference earlier this week, said it was crucial for COP 17 to ensure that the Cancun Agreements, which included the establishment of a Green Climate Fund, were operationalised.

The President said developing countries demanded a prompt start for the Fund through early initial capitalisation.

For Durban to be successful, Zuma said, the parties then had to deal with the outstanding political issues remaining from the Bali Roadmap of 2007.

This meant finding a resolution to the issue of the second commitment period for the Kyoto Protocol, and agreeing on the legal nature of a future climate change system.

Zuma added that adaptation was another essential element of the outcome of COP 17, as it was a key priority for many developing countries, particularly small island developing states, least developed countries, and Africa.

SAinfo reporter and BuaNews