The South African Minister of Environmental Affairs, Edna Molewa was in Lima, Peru to participate in the twentieth session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 20), under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The UNFCCC COP 20 began in Lima on 01 December and will conclude on 12 December 2014. The high level-segment was officially opened on Wednesday 9 December 2014.
Three years after the Durban United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP17), where negotiations took steps to ensure an effective global response to the global challenge of climate change, COP20 is critical for setting the stage for achieving a global agreement in Paris at the end of 2015.
Under South Africa’s UNFCCC COP Presidency, COP 17 achieved a historic agreement on the Durban Platform and the initiation of negotiations on a new global legal instrument, applicable to all countries, to be adopted by 2015 and to come into effect in 2020.
Molewa said South Africa and the world were preparing to ensure that the UN climate change conference in Paris in 2015 delivers an outcome that lives up to the ground-breaking Durban Platform outcome of COP 17 / CMP7.
“And in doing so, we continue to engage with the science from the 5th Assessment Report of the IPCC all the while deliberating, planning, strategizing and taking practical action,” the minister said.
She added that the global climate change family is near the deadline set in the Durban Platform. “COP 20 is critical as we work towards concluding the negotiation of a new multilateral legal agreement in Paris next year.”
Molewa highlighted South Africa’s priorities for Lima COP 20 as follows:
1. To reach agreement on the elements of the new legal agreement, that is inclusive, fair, effective and adequate to keep temperature increase well below 2°C.
2. There must be recognition that adaptation should be at the heart of the climate regime with multi-lateralism critical to offering protection of those that are most vulnerable;
3. It will be critical for Parties to reach agreement on the minimum information to be presented with Parties’ Intended Nationally Determined Contributions, covering all key pillars of the negotiation, namely adaptation, mitigation, technology, finance and capacity building.
4. The Lima political agreement needs to elaborate on the legal form that the post -2020 regime should take; and
5. The Lima political agreement must confirm how developing countries’ contributions to the global effort to combat climate change will be financed, and whether the obligation to provide this support will be legally binding on developed countries.
South Africa is attending the Lima Climate Talks guided by the country’s National Climate Change Response Policy, which sets out the nation’s vision and framework for an effective response, and the long-term, just transition to a climate-resilient economy and society.
“Our policy objectives are to effectively manage the inevitable climate change impacts through interventions that build and sustain the country’s social, economic and environmental resilience and emergency response capacity; as well as to make a fair contribution to the global effort to stabilise greenhouse gas (GHG) concentrations within a timeframe that enables economic, social and environmental development to proceed in a sustainable manner,” Molewa said.
South Africa’s approach is one of promoting sustainable development by prioritising climate change responses that have significant mitigation benefits, AND have significant economic growth, job creation and poverty alleviation benefits.
The country’s achievements in the past few years since Durban include the development of a National Climate Change Response Policy that charts the course for actions that are both developmental and transformational.
It has also managed to produce a set of Long Term Adaptation Scenarios (LTAS) that are being developed, under plausible future climate conditions and development pathways.
“We are also working hard on reducing our greenhouse gas emissions. Extensive work has been done, jointly with business and industry, to analyse the emission reduction potential in key economic sectors, and to understand the social and economic opportunities and impacts of reducing emissions. This work will lead to the establishment of desired emission reduction outcomes per sector, and carbon budgets for companies,” the minister said.
The National Green Economy Strategy provides the strategic directive to grow economic activity in the green industry sector, so as to attract investment, create jobs and improve competitiveness. It also provides the strategic direction for transitioning existing economic sectors towards cleaner, low-carbon industries with sustained socio-economic benefits and low environmental impact.