History was made in Durban: Nkoana-Mashabane

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Pretoria - COP17 President and International Relations Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane has hailed the historic Durban climate change talks, saying the agreement reached there has restored confidence in multilateral institutions and multiple-party engagements.

In her last briefing for the year, the minister said the conference was transparent and lived up to expectations.

The climate change conference, she said, was characterised by a new willingness by parties to move beyond entrenched negotiating positions.

"Every decision was taken in the open, [with] every decision defending the activism and inclusiveness that this conference was held under," said Nkoana-Mashabane.

Some analysts have called the "Durban Deal" a face-saver for governments and for the UN's multilateral negotiations process.

At the conference, the parties agreed on a package of decisions known as the Durban Platform, which includes the launch of a protocol or legal instrument that would apply to all members; a second commitment period for the existing Kyoto Protocol and the launch of the Green Climate Fund.

Nkoana-Mashabane welcomed the decision, saying it represented a significant agreement that would define how the international community would address climate change in the coming years.

Asked to comment on Canada's decision to withdraw from the Kyoto Protocol, Nkoana-Mashabane said the decision was regrettable.

However, she said whether or not Cananda was a party to the Kyoto Protocol, "it has a legal obligation under the convention to reduce its omissions and a moral obligation to itself and future generations to lead the global effort".

The big question now, she said, was how the agreement would translate into actual emission reductions and by when, for the whole world.

She said Durban has kept the door open for the world to respond to climate change.