19. September 2011

17th Convention on climate change - Information by Ambassador Xolisa Mabhongo

SOUTH AFRICA TO HOST 17TH CONVENTION OF THE PARTIES TO THE UNITED NATIONS FRAMEWORK CONVENTION ON CLIMATE CHANGE (COP17) FROM 28 NOVEMBER - 9 DECEMBER, 2011

South Africa will be rounding off an intense period of multilateral diplomatic activity this year when we host the 17th Convention of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), from 28 November to 9 December 2011 in Durban. Even though the venue may be distant to many in Europe, the issues are real, current and right on our doorstep. In many regards, the EU countries have been willing to lead the way with their own commitment to the Kyoto Protocol and internal processes in support of those commitments.

However, it will require sustained commitment to agreed principles, and willingness to compromise and progress if we are to fulfil our duty to current and future generations in Durban.

The President of South Africa, H.E. President Zuma, speaking on 9 September 2011 during COP Ministerial Consultations, highlighted the following key principles and goals in terms of the outcomes of COP17:

- The impact of climate change is already evident globally in the increased frequency and intensity of extreme weather events, coastal erosion and flooding as a result of rising sea levels, increase of the occurrence of certain diseases, loss of biodiversity and economic impacts and an increase in the number of environmental refugees;

- A global response is the only effective and sustainable answer to this global challenge;

- Any outcome in Durban must remain true to the principles of multilateralism, environmental integrity, common but differentiated responsibility and respective capabilities, equity, and honouring of all international commitments and undertakings made in the climate change process;

-It is only through the preservation of the multilateral rules-based system that markets can be secured. Funding is essential to developing countries and without multilateral commitments to provide adequate and sustainable funding, developing countries would be even more seriously affected;

-A less ambitious outcome that would not address the urgent needs of those seriously affected by climate change and that fall short of allowing future generations the opportunity to grow and to live in a secure environment, would simply not be acceptable. More so since the Durban Conference is taking place on the African continent, which is particularly vulnerable to the impact of climate change;

- All Parties based on common but differentiated responsibility and respective capabilities, will have to do more to reach our agreed long-term global goal of limiting average temperature increase to below 2 degrees Celsius. Agreement needs to address the necessary means of implementation – finance, technology and capacity-building – to be equitable.

-In Cancun, a package that included a collective commitment by developed countries to provide new and additional Fast Start Financing through international institutions in the amount of 30 billion US dollars between 2010 and 2012, as well as setting a goal of mobilising jointly 100 billion US dollars by 2020, was agreed.

-There should thus be progress made on the operationalisation of the Cancun Agreements, including the establishment of the key mechanisms and institutional arrangements agreed to; -A solution for the mitigation question is critical, but needs to be balanced with a credible outcome on adaptation that avoids the current fragmented approach and deals with adaptation in a coherent and effective manner.

-In addition, we cannot avoid addressing the end of the first commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol in 2012. Any decision on the future of the Kyoto Protocol will inevitably be part of the broader question of the future and nature of the climate change regime.

In order to address this issue in Durban a wide variety of interests and positions will have to be balanced. It will be important for individuals also within their own communities and organizations to assess how they can contribute in a positive way to ensure that we achieve a balance that will favour positive global outcomes. For further information, the South African Embassy can be reached at viennabilateral@dirco.gov.za. (SADOCC)

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