Pretoria - President Jacob Zuma has during a bilateral meeting with French President Nicolas Sarkozy called for world leaders to commit to legally binding emission reduction targets at the upcoming climate change summit in Copenhagen.
Zuma, who met with Sarkozy on the sidelines of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Trinidad and Tobago, emphasised South Africa's position on the need for an agreement on carbon emission reduction that recognises the differentiated responsibilities of developed and developing countries.
"Developed countries need to commit to ambitious, legally binding emission reduction targets in accordance with the requirements of science. Developing countries need to undertake emission reduction action that is measurable, reportable and verifiable," said Zuma.
He said future multilateral climate change regime needed to resolve the current challenge and potential future crisis of the devastating impact of climate change on the African continent.
Equally, it must support the building of future sustainable economic development, competitiveness and growth in a manner that avoids emissions and enhances social and environmental development in South Africa and in the African continent.
The climate change conference, which will take place in December, is expected to be a land mark event as a new set of climate change targets are negotiated. The Kyoto Protocol will end in 2012.
Zuma and Sarkozy also discussed the strengthening of bilateral ties between South Africa and France and continued partnership between developed and emerging economies in areas of economic development.
In a toast to the Commonwealth at a dinner hosted by Queen Elizabeth II on Friday evening President Zuma said while the ties that bind Commonwealth countries are rooted in history, the value of the Commonwealth lies in the future.
"As we celebrate 60 years, it is appropriate that we commit ourselves to serving a new generation. The Commonwealth must therefore continue to strive to ensure the youth are able to determine their own future."
"As we look to the needs of a new generation, we will hold fast to the principles and values that have characterised our organisation. We will hold fast to the vision of the better world we seek to build," Zuma said.
The President was also expected to hold bilateral meetings with the United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and Danish Prime Minister Lars Loekke Rasmussen.