SA sets targets for 2011 climate talks

With the recent United Nations (UN) Climate Change Conference in Mexico not having addressed a number of key issues, months of hard work lie ahead for South Africa – the host of the 2011 conference.

climate changeOutlining the outcomes of the recent climate change conference in Cancun, Mexico, Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs Edna Molewa said despite an agreement being reached on certain issues, the conference was unable to answer many “difficult political questions.”

These have now been forwarded the next UN Climate Change Conference, which will be held in Durban in December 2011. South Africa is the incoming president of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

“South Africa has an immense amount of work to do in order to move forward from Cancun to Durban. Our challenge is to address the unresolved issues while at the same time ensuring that the agreements made in Cancun are further developed and elaborated,” she said.

Next month, government will launch a comprehensive consultation programme that will include all stakeholders and develop a shared vision for the Durban conference, Molewa added.

At the talks in Mexico, South Africa, along with developing countries in Africa, called for a two-track legally binding outcome with regards to the Kyoto Protocol.

The UNFCCC is the parent treaty of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, under which industrialised countries committed themselves to a reduction of greenhouse gases. The Protocol expires in 2012.

The minister explained that the first track called for developed countries, who had joined the Protocol, to agree to a second commitment period under the Protocol.

The second track, called for developed countries that did not join the Protocol to “take comparable commitments under the Convention with the collective effort of all developed countries adding up to a level of ambition required by science (a 25-40% aggregate reduction from 1990 levels by 2020)”.

Under this track, developing countries were also expected to contribute to the global solution to the climate crisis.

“While some progress was achieved in relation to how the developed country mitigation targets are reflected, in Cancun there was no agreement on a second commitment period for the Kyoto Protocol,” she said.

Further negotiations on this matter would be forwarded for decision to the Durban conference.

Despite this, Molewa said the adoption of the Cancun Agreements was an extraordinary achievement, which preserved the possibility for a two-track legally binding outcome.

Elements of the Cancun Agreements include:

* Industrialised countries are to develop low-carbon development plans and strategies.
* Parties meeting under the Protocol agreed to continue negotiations with aim of completing their work and ensuring there was no gap between the first and second commitment periods.
* Parties launched initiatives and institutions to protect the vulnerable from climate change.
* A total of $30 billion in fast start finance will come from industrialised countries to support climate action in the developing world.
* Governments agreed to boost action to curb emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries with technological and financial support.

Source: Simply Green

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