29 November 2011
International Relations and Cooperation Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane has called on delegates attending the UN Climate Change Conference in South Africa to retain the trust that was built in Cancun, Mexico last year.
“The trust that was rekindled in Cancun is still very fragile, and we call on all parties to retain the gains of the Mexico conference,” Nkoana-Mashabane said after being elected COP 17 president on Monday morning.
She described the two-week talks, which began at the city’s International Convention Centre on Monday, as signalling the “end of the line” for many pressing issues that were agreed on at COP 16 in Cancun in December last year.
The UN has confirmed that 192 parties from 191 countries have arrived in Durban for the the 17th Conference of the Parties (COP 17) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), with the total delegation put at just over 15 000.
“This conference needs to be aware that time is against us, a lot of people are looking at us to find solutions to the climate problems and we dare not fail them,” she said.
As president of the Conference of the Parties (COP), Nkoana-Mashabane faces the tough task of having to bring the parties together in finding common agreements over the future of the Kyoto Protocol and how to finance adaptation and mitigation in developing countries.
The first commitment period of the 1997 treaty is coming to an end next year and developing countries are pushing for a second commitment period, but major economies, that include the United States and Japan, have so far refused to come to the table.
The European Union said it would commit to the new commitment to the Kyoto Protocol but had placed conditions on this, including the demand for a change in the framework of the convention.
The green light on both the Kyoto Protocol and the Green Climate Fund – Countries last year agreed to a start-up funding of US$100-million towards mitigation and adaptation programmes – is expected when ministers and heads of state arrive at the conference.