Pretoria - While developed countries must commit to legally binding emission reduction targets, developing nations should commit to mitigate the effects of emissions, says President Jacob Zuma.
Addressing the UN climate change conference in Copenhagen, Denmark on Friday, Zuma said South Africa's view was that all developed nations must commit to legally binding emission reduction targets in line with historical responsibility and with the needs of science.
"Developing countries should commit to nationally appropriate mitigation action, to achieve a decline in emissions relative to business as usual," he said, adding that this would depend on finance, technology and capacity building support from developed countries.
Zuma said climate change was a practical matter for the developing world especially Africa.
He said in South Africa, weather patterns in coastal provinces were already wreaking havoc on people's lives, an indication that climate change is a reality.
"Developed countries are historically responsible for 80 percent of the current emissions in the atmosphere. Developing countries are most affected by climate change," he said.
He said in the long term, an agreement that recognises the common responsibility of all nations to reduce emissions, while not retarding the development of developing countries is needed.
"Developing countries are ready to play their part in reducing global emissions, but obviously rich countries have to take the lead," he told delegates at the conference.
He said with financial and technological support from developed countries, South Africa for example, will be able to reduce emissions by 34 percent below 'business as usual' levels by 2020 and by 42 percent by 2025.