COP 17 ‘a coup for Africa’ – Zuma

12 December 2011

President Jacob Zuma has congratulated the South African delegation for their “outstanding achievement” at the UN climate summit (COP 17) in Durban.

Zuma, who is currently on a working visit to Benin, telephoned International Relations Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, the president of COP 17, and Water and Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa, the leader of the SA delegation, on Sunday to congratulate them on the outcome of the conference.

“The outcome in Durban is a coup for Africa,” Zuma said. “Issues that had taken so long to resolve have been resolved on our soil. We are very happy and proud of the South African team that worked so hard with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to make Durban succeed.

“This is a moment of glory for South Africa and Africa.”

‘Well done to Team South Africa’

He also praised South Africa’s COP 17 inter-ministerial committee, the Premier of KwaZulu-Natal and the Mayor of eThekwini Municipality, saying the “whole team has done exceptionally well and has made us walk tall.”

Zuma also thanked local and foreign media, civil society, especially the Congress of SA Trade Unions (Cosatu), the interfaith sector, women’s organisations and other stakeholders for their contribution to the conference’s success.

“We cannot forget the people of eThekwini and surroundings who, as usual, welcomed the guests with open arms and warmth. Well done to Team South Africa! We did it again through working together.”

The Durban Platform

After two weeks of negotiations, the parties at COP 17 agreed on a clear pathway to a legally binding instrument that will compel all countries, including the biggest polluters, to take action to slow the pace of global warming.

The package of agreements making up the “Durban Platform” also include a new commitment period for the Kyoto Protocol, the launch of the Green Climate Fund, and the implementation of the agreements made in Cancun, Mexico in 2010.

For the first time, governments agreed to adopt a universal legal agreement on climate change – one that includes both rich developed countries like the US as well as developing giants such as China and India – to be decided on not later than 2015 and to come into force by 2020.

Work on this will begin immediately under a new group called the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action.

Governments, including 35 industrialised countries, also agreed a second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol from 1 January 2013 – the current period expires on 31 December 2012.

To achieve rapid clarity, parties to the second period will turn their economy-wide targets into quantified emission-limitation or reduction objectives and submit them for review by 1 May 2012.

‘Common but differentiated responsibilities’

Also agreed on in Durban was an advanced framework for reporting emission reductions that covers both developed and developing countries while taking into account the principle – something developing countries had been pushing hard for – of “common but differentiated responsibilities” of different countries.

In addition to charting the way forward for reducing greenhouse gases in the global context, governments meeting in South Africa agreed the full implementation of the package – agreed to in Cancun, Mexico in 2010 – to help developing nations adapt to and mitigate the worst effect of climate change.

The package includes the Green Climate Fund, an Adaptation Committee designed to improve the coordination of adaptation actions on a global scale, and a Technology Mechanism, all of which will become fully operational in 2012.

Assistance, funding for developing countries

Countries have already started to pledge to contribute to the start-up costs of the Green Climate Fund, meaning it could be made ready in 2012.

A focused work programme on long-term finance was agreed to, which will contribute to the scaling up of climate change finance going forward and will analyse options for the mobilisation of resources from a variety of sources.

With regard to adaptation, the Adaptation Committee will report to the COP on its efforts to improve the coordination of adaptation actions at a global scale.

The adaptive capacities of the poorest and most vulnerable countries are to be strengthened, with the most vulnerable to receive better protection against loss and damage caused by extreme weather events related to climate change.

Governments also agreed to a registry to record the mitigation actions of developing countries that need financial support and to match these with support.

SAinfo reporter and BuaNews