“We trust that the state parties will rise to the occasion and meet the expectations of millions around the world whose livelihoods depend on there being progress in the climate change negotiations.”
Global warming is already having a negative impact on Africa and the world at large, with changing weather patterns affecting the environment, health, natural resources, agriculture and food production, shelter as well as infrastructure worldwide.
Zuma said it was for these reasons that the parties that will meet in Durban must take a step forward to a solution to these challenges.
“In the African context, they must help to strike a balance between ensuring that climate change does not reach dangerous levels on the one hand, and the need to grow our economies to eradicate poverty on the other.”
To reach this, Zuma reiterated the five-point vision for the conference. Firstly, he said the outcome should be balanced, fair and credible and to achieve this outcome, the conference approach must be informed by the basic principles that underpin the UN climate change negotiations.
These principles, he said include multilateralism, environmental integrity, fairness and the honouring of all international commitments and undertakings made in the climate change process.
The next step, he said, should ensure that the Cancun Agreements, which include the establishment of a Green Climate Fund, must be operationalised.
The President said developing countries demand a prompt start for the Fund through its early and initial capitalization.
Thirdly, for Durban to be successful, parties have to deal with the outstanding political issues remaining from the Bali Roadmap.
This, according to Zuma, means finding a resolution to the issue of the 2nd Commitment Period under the Kyoto Protocol, and agreeing on the legal nature of a future climate change system.
Fourthly, adaptation is an essential element of the outcome of the conference as it is a key priority for many developing countries, particularly Small Island Developing States, Least Developed Countries and Africa. And lastly, he said, any outcome in Durban has to be adequate enough to adhere to the principle of environmental integrity.
“The low level of ambition in this regard is cause for concern. Parties must come to Durban expecting a credible, sustainable and implementable outcome.”
South Africa’s position during the conference will be led by the Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs, Edna Molewa, while Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, is the incoming President of COP17, taking over from Mexico.
Zuma said South Africa will approach the talks “in a spirit of open consultation with all parties and stakeholders, and ensure that the discussions stay on track”.
The country was already playing its part to mitigate the impacts of climate change. Some of the plans put in place by government are the development of the Green Economy, which is stipulated in the New Growth Path. Others include the social accord on green jobs by business, government and labour this past week, and the integration of the green industries in the Industrial Policy Action Plan is an example of SA’s commitment to greening the economy.