President Jacob Zuma to attend High Level Segment of the COP-15 scheduled for 18 December 2009, in Copenhagen.

Pretoria - President Jacob Zuma, supported by the Ministers of International Relations and Co-operations Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, Water and Environmental Affairs Buyelwa Sonjica and senior representatives of the South African government, will participate in the High - Level Segment of the 15th Conference of the Parties (COP-15) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the 5th Conference of the Parties serving as the Meeting of the Parties (CMP-5) to the Kyoto Protocol slated for 18 December 2009 in Copenhagen, Denmark.  The COP -15 will have three segments namely, Senior officials meetings: 07-13 December 2009, Ministerial session: 14 -17 December 2009 and the Heads of State and Government Summit (High Level Segment) scheduled for 18 December 2009.

South Africa participates in the COP – 15 within the context of strengthening global governance and promoting the internationally agreed instruments to advance the interests of the developing world. Commenting on climate change last month on the margins of the Commonwealth Heads of Government and Meeting President Zuma said: "The impact of climate change is more severe to smaller countries... this is a life and death issue and we would want to push that serious decisions be taken in Copenhagen, so that we are able to address issues that affect human beings who inhabit these small countries."  Accordingly, South Africa’s expectations for the outcome of Copenhagen are informed by its national interests and that of the developing countries the majority of whom are worse affected by climate change and resultant natural disasters. 

South Africa needs global reductions in GHG emissions to ensure that the impacts of climate change do not undermine our development. South Africa also needs to increase adaptation measures, to reduce vulnerability and build resilience.

As a developing country with huge developmental challenges, South Africa cannot afford to take on any binding emission reduction targets. South Africa has an energy intensive economy. In order to transform to a clean energy economy, South Africa needs access to international finance and technology.

South Africa needs to move, along with the rest of the world, towards lower carbon and cleaner technology development and innovation, in order to maintain our competitiveness and to avoid international trade barriers. The Long-term Mitigation Scenario Process concluded last year showed that climate change mitigation interventions should be informed by, and monitored and measured against a “plateau and decline” emission trajectory, in which GHG emissions stop growing (start of plateau) in 2020-25 and begin declining in absolute terms (end of plateau) in 2030-35.

South Africa’s national interest is the development of a future international and multilateral climate change regime which:

  • Resolves the current challenge and potential future crisis of the devastating climate change impacts on the Continent;
  • AND simultaneously supports the building of future sustainable economic, development, competitiveness and growth in a way that enhances social and environmental development in South Africa and in the African continent.

South Africa’s position is that a 2 track approach is needed: (i) 1 track for the outcome of negotiations under the Kyoto Protocol on further commitments by Annex I Parties for the 2nd and subsequent commitment periods - namely an amendment of Annex B of the Kyoto Protocol; and (ii) a separate instrument, interpreted with the Convention and Kyoto protocol, for the outcome of the negotiations under the Convention.

Under each of the building blocks of the Bali Roadmap, our expectations are:

  • Adaptation: Copenhagen must deliver a comprehensive international programme on adaptation that provides access to significantly up-scaled finance (at least USD 100 billion per annum by 2020), technology and capacity building for all developing countries, recognising the particular vulnerability of countries in Africa.

  • Mitigation by developed countries: In order to remain below a global average temperature of 2ºC, in accordance with the science and in line with their historical responsibility for emissions, all developed countries (Annex I) must commit to ambitious, economy-wide legally binding emission reduction targets, of at least 40% reduction below 1990 levels by 2020.  Annex 1 Parties to the Kyoto Protocol must take these commitments for the 2nd and subsequent commitment periods under the Kyoto track. The US must be brought into a framework of comparable legally binding emission reduction targets under the Convention track.
  • Mitigation by developing countries: The IPCC scientific assessment requires both deep absolute cuts in Annex I countries (consistent with their historical responsibility) and a decline in  emissions relative to business as usual in some developing regions by 2020 and in all regions by 2050 (consistent with responsibility for the future). Copenhagen must therefore deliver a framework for nationally appropriate mitigation action by developing countries, supported and enabled by finance, technology and capacity building, all of which are measured, reported and verified.

  • Finance, technology and capacity building: In order to enable lower carbon and resource efficient sustainable development in the developing world, an agreement in Copenhagen requires developed countries to comply with their obligations under Article 4 of the Convention, on provision of finance, as well as development, transfer and diffusion of technology. Therefore, Copenhagen must deliver a significantly scaled up package of new and additional finance and technology (0.5% to 1% of the GDP of developed countries per annum, by 2020), as well as the necessary transparent, efficient, effective and geographically balanced institutional arrangements for delivery.

President Jacob Zuma is expected to return to South Africa on 19 December 2009.

For more information contact Saul Molobi - Chief Director for Public Diplomacy on 082 9401647.

Issued by the Department of International Relations and Cooperation.
Private Bag X152
Pretoria, 0001

08 December 2009.


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