SA sets targets for 2011 climate talks
17 December 2010
The United Nations climate change summit in Cancun, Mexico reached a number of agreements while failing to resolve key issues, leaving South Africa, host of the 2011 conference, with a lot of hard work to do.
Outlining the outcomes of the Cancun conference, South African Water and Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa said the conference had been unable to answer many "difficult political questions."
These have now been forwarded to the 17th Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which will take place in Durban, South Africa from 28 November to 9 December 2011.
South Africa is the incoming president of the UNFCCC, the parent treaty of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, under which industrialised countries committed themselves to a reduction of greenhouse gases. The Kyoto Protocol expires in 2012.
"South Africa has an immense amount of work to do in order to move forward from Cancun to Durban," Molewa told journalists in Pretoria this week. "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."
Next month, the South African government will launch a comprehensive consultation programme, including all stakeholders, in order to develop a shared vision for the Durban conference, Molewa said.
At the talks in Mexico, South Africa, along with developing countries in Africa, had called for a two-track legally binding outcome regarding the Kyoto Protocol.
Molewa 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," Molewa 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 agreed to develop low-carbon development plans and strategies.
- Parties meeting under the Protocol agreed to continue negotiations aimed at completing their work and ensuring that there was no gap between the first and second commitment periods.
- Parties launched initiatives and institutions to protect vulnerable countries from climate change.
- A total of US$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.