South Africa welcomes the initiative by the UN Secretary General to convene Heads of State on the important matter of climate change. For Africa, the impact of climate change is devastating, and will severely undermine development and poverty eradication efforts.
Climate change affects agricultural yields, and therefore food security.
It affects people's access to water in an already water-stressed region. Rural people are compromised by the impact on ecosystems that support their livelihoods. Coastal areas will be flooded, affecting people's homes and livelihoods and damaging coastal infrastructure.
These developments affect every aspect of society - social, economic and environmental.
We need to act now to ensure there is a global agreement on this critical challenge. The global agreement should be guided by a shared vision. It should be inclusive, fair and effective.
It must recognise that solving the climate problem cannot be separated from the struggle to eradicate poverty.
It must be based on sound science. It must strike a balance between adaptation and mitigation, and it must address the means of implementation. There needs to be agreement on new, additional, sustainable and predictable financing for adaptation. This should be for programmes that reduce the vulnerability of developing countries to the effects of climate change.
On mitigation, the agreement must contain ambitious, quantified, and legally binding emission reduction commitments by developed countries. It must set the framework for mitigation actions by developing countries that are supported and enabled by finance and technology.
We need to acknowledge and maintain the distinction between the responsibilities of developed countries and those of developing countries. Our goal should be to significantly reduce emissions across the globe without constraining development in the countries of the South.
Leadership by all developed countries, through emission reduction commitments that are in line with science and that address their historical responsibilities, would ensure much needed progress in the international negotiations. Now is the time to act, and to act decisively.
22 September 2009