Closing remarks by the incoming President of COP17/CMP7, Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, at the Pre-COP Ministerial Meeting, Spier Conference Centre, Stellenbosch, Western Cape Province, South Africa, 21 October 2011

Honorable Ministers,

Colleagues,

Ladies and Gentlemen.

We have now come to the end of two days of these crucial discussions on politically difficult issues that require political guidance.  Allow me to thank all of you for your participation and valuable inputs. Honorable Ministers, I am well aware of the time constraints you have, and I am grateful that despite of your busy and important schedules, you chose to take part in this Pre-Cop.

I appreciate all your ideas and expressions of your commitment to support me in my capacity as the incoming COP17/CMP7 President, and I hope you will take these discussions and ideas forward by giving new mandates to the negotiators, who will translate them into fair and credible texts in Durban.

I would also like to once again take this opportunity to thank the United Kingdom and Switzerland for their partnership which has made this meeting possible.

In conclusion, I encourage all of you to continue with bilateral consultations in the spirit of true multilateralism, with the view of reaching compromises that will make our work in Durban much easier.

I would like to leave you with some food for thought:

Durban will not be able to reach a final agreement on the post-2012 climate change regime. This for us presents a unique opportunity for Durban to provide a common and stable platform from where Parties will agree on how to implement existing commitments undertaken so far by all Parties. This will include agreeing on a second commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol. We also have to agree on how we will collectively do more in order to address the obvious gap that exists between what we are currently doing to limit the average global temperature increase to below 2 °C and what we actually need to be doing to achieve this goal.

I suggest we focus our energies on the following:

We need to continue to strengthen and enhance our efforts within the broader context of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, its Kyoto Protocol and the decisions that have been taken thus far. The dire situation of the impacts of climate change does not give us the luxury of reinventing the wheel. Yes, there are many imperfections, but as we always say in this negotiations, let the perfect not be the enemy of the good! We are not embarking on a new system or a new framework, we are working within the existing framework and based on the principles and objectives enshrined in the existing framework. We are continuing our efforts to strengthen enhanced implementation of what we have done so far, FULLY REALISING that we need to do more. Durban must decide how we can do more.

Many issues need guidance, but the one single issue that I, in my capacity as incoming Presidency, have identified and which has the potential to unlock many outstanding matters, is the balance between what we do NOW and what we agree now to do in the FUTURE.

For NOW we need to agree on a 2nd Commitment Period of the Kyoto Protocol and agree on a way that would lead us to a multilateral rules-based system that would be equally binding on all Parties.  The mitigation pledges and actions already made will be part of what we do now.

For the future, we need to build into this decision the necessary safeguards and assurances that would make it possible for all Parties to move from a common platform in Durban.

In respect to the “legal nature” of such a future system, the urgency and need to increase the level of ambition through enhanced mitigation commitments and actions appears to be the driving force for the demand for a legally binding outcome. Some however are not ready to step into a legally binding agreement at present. We as Ministers must therefore think creatively and responsibly on what a decision in Durban could look like that take into account all the well known differing concerns! My sense is that agreeing on an appropriate process and timeframe and the utilization of the 2013 to 2015 Review Process could assist us.

If the matter of our future actions can be resolved, I believe that an agreement on the outstanding mitigation matters, accounting and transparency, Long Term Finance, Adaptation and other Means of Implementation will be possible.

I look forward to welcoming you in Durban soon, where with your political will and guidance, I am sure we will be able to produce a balanced, fair and credible outcome that will move our efforts to address climate change forward.

I wish you well in your return trips and I trust that some of you will take the time to enjoy the hospitality, natural beauty, and explore the unique wine lands of this region which could inspire you and serve as a reminder of the true purpose of our work in this process.

I thank you.”
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