Business urged to play climate leadership role

Friday, April 15, 2011

Johannesburg - The South African government wants to use the upcoming United Nations climate change summit, scheduled to take place in Durban later this year, to convince the country's business sector to take a leading role in the global efforts to slow climate change. 

Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa on Friday met with Business Unity South Africa (Busa) for a two-hour discussion on how the sector can assist government pass policies that promote green growth. 

The meeting was called to assess business feelings around government's climate policy and how the sector can assist in making the Durban talks a success for Africa and other developing nations. 

"We had a very fruitful discussion which touched on a whole range of issues pertaining to how business can make COP 17 a success. Based on what we have discussed, we are confident that we will be in a position to see how business can step up to the plate and help shape our policy direction," Molewa said at the conclusion of the meeting. 

South Africa has committed to lower its carbon emission to 34 percent by 2020 but will need financial support from developed countries to do so. The country recently embarked on several solar and wind power programmes in a bid to fast track its green economy initiatives. 

Molewa said while government would play its part in policy formulation, the role of business in ongoing efforts to mitigate global warming can never be underestimated.

"We have worked well with business on quite a number of projects and what we agreed on here is that we don't want to see COP 17 as another talk shop to discuss previous decisions taken in Mexico and Copenhagen...we have to move forward and beyond what was said there."

The UN-led negotiations have in the past been hampered by arguments about rich nations' targets to cut emissions by 2020, financing for poorer nations to adapt to climate change and to curb their own greenhouse gas emissions and the best way to deliver and manage those funds. Poor nations have also been refusing to fork out money for mitigation efforts, blaming developed nations for the current climate problems faced by the world. 

But Molewa said she was confident that the talks in South Africa would not be another mudslinging exercise between superpowers such as the United States and Japan and the developing nations led by China, India, Brazil and South Africa.

Busa Deputy CEO Raymond Parsons insisted that while business supported the targets set by the South African government and the accord reached by world leaders in Copenhagen in 2009, it was imperative that climate policy direction was in line with the economic growth path announced by Pretoria recently. 

"For us what is important is how we interpret those climate goals in other words how do align the climate policy with the new growth path," he said. - BuaNews