SA will not compromise in Copenhagen - Sonjica

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Pretoria - South Africa will join other leading nations in calling for a comprehensive, ambitious and fair international climate change deal to be clinched at the upcoming United Nations Climate Change Conference.

Briefing the media on South Africa's position ahead of the all-important summit, scheduled for December in Copenhagen,
Environmental Affairs Minister Buyelwa Sonjica chose to say South Africa was "cautiously optimistic" about the deal emerging from the talks.

She said South Africa would take a cautious position in light of the deep difference in views between developed and developing countries on key principles. These include the need for super powers to lead on emission reduction and to meet the commitment they have made to support developing countries mitigation and adaptation with finance, technology capacity and in building support.

"South Africa has consistently indicated its willingness to contribute to global action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions within the framework of developed countries' historical responsibility for current emissions and a common responsibility by all for the future," said Sonjica.

The United Nations has insisted that a successful Copenhagen deal needs to map out how global cooperation can be achieved through agreement on a number of political issues. The Kyoto Protocol's Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) also provides a number of opportunities for technology diffusion by offering a legal framework for countries that are required to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

Sonjica insisted South Africa needs global reductions in GHG emissions to ensure that the impacts of climate change do not undermine the country's socio- economic development.

She said while the country contributed 50 percent to GHG emissions in Africa, the country was not more responsible and was vulnerable like any of those in the developed world.

"South Africa as a developing country with huge developmental challenges needs carbon space in order to meet our developmental needs. We cannot afford to take on any binding emission reduction targets," she said.

She conceded that it was not fair to expect South Africa to make a dramatic shift from coal generated power when developed countries like the United States and the United Kingdom were still using coal as their main source of energy.

Developed countries have accepted to continue taking the lead in reducing GHG emissions, but doing so requires agreement on an ambitious mid-term target for the group of countries as a whole in line with their historic responsibility.

Sonjica said given South Africa's social and economic inequalities and developmental challenges and vulnerability to the impacts of rising global temperatures, it was crucial to secure a fair outcome in Copenhagen which respects the convention's principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and national and regional development priorities within the context of sustainable development and stabilisation of greenhouse gas emissions.

"While we emphasise on mitigation, adaptation must also be taken seriously," she said.