Address by Minister of Home Affairs N Dlamini Zuma at the second meeting of the Council of Socialist International in Paris
15 Nov 2010
President of Socialist International, Prime Minister George Papandreou
The Secretary General of Socialist International, Luis Ayala
The Secretary General of the Organisation for Economic Development and Cooperation Martine Aubry
Ladies and gentlemen,
All protocol observed
I am very pleased to share my thoughts on the theme, “Facing the Consequences of Climate Change: The urgent need for a meaningful agreement at COP16,” with the 16th session of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP16) in Cancun, Mexico just two weeks away.The outcomes of COP16 have added significance for my country South Africa since we will host COP17 in 2011.
The 2010 United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) report released earlier this month cited evidence that the world’s current production and consumption patterns are environmentally unsustainable. Speaking specifically to climate change the report, acknowledging that international agreements have been difficult to achieve and policy responses slow, continues, “Climate change is happening and it can derail human development.It is expected to significantly affect sea levels and weather patterns and possibly human settlement and agricultural productivity.”
This is echoed by the views espoused by the Socialist International for many years. In fact, in the September 2009 deliberations of the Commission for a Sustainable World Society, we called on world leaders to use the opportunity presented by the global financial crisis to “chart a permanent course of sustainable green development that would serve not only to reduce gas emissions and better prepare for the impacts of climate change but also to establish a fairer, more just form of globalisation, one in which markets serve people rather than the other way around.”This means, people must determine policies, not markets.
We have seen how natural phenomena can have a disastrous and disruptive effect on our lives, even when they occur miles away.The eruption of the now famous, or infamous, volcano in Iceland a few months ago brought the world to a standstill, affecting amongst others, the economy of countries as far away as Kenya when the flower-sellers were not able to transport their orders to Europe.
The Commission for a Sustainable World Society has for some time been beseeching governments to show political determination to ensure we find a just and sustainable approach to climate change. Despite a multitude of views, we are no closer to reaching a common response to climate change. The debate continues to be dominated by the need to balance the interests and obligations of developed and developing countries although the Kyoto Protocol, recognising this, called for “common but differentiated responsibilities,” towards reducing global carbon emissions.
COP 15 hosted in Copenhagen, Denmark a year ago did not achieve what it had aspired to a legally binding climate change agreement for 2012 as mandated by the Bali Agreement of 2007. Although the Accord included a 2°C target and some other important provisions that would serve as an outline for a future framework on climate change, a significant failure, as some would say, was that developed countries did not commit themselves to legally-binding carbon emission reductions.
Substantial international commitments to the Adaptation as well as the Copenhagen Climate Change Fund were made, amounting to US$ 30 billion from 2010 to 2012 and US$ 100 billion by 2020 respectively. This is reassuring since we know that technology transfers and capacity building for developing countries are crucial to bridging the North-South technological divide as well as towards ensuring an effective global response to mitigating and adapting to climate change and the promotion of sustainable economic development.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Climate refugees become a key issue in the debate around mitigating the effects of climate change. Currently, countries receiving refugees escaping, inter alia, political and religious persecution struggle to balance international obligations to which they have acceded against the needs of their citizens. We know, as the UNDP report states that the small island states, developing countries as well as Africa will bear the brunt of climate change because of their underdevelopment as well as rising sea levels. Where will these citizens seek refuge? How will countries deal with such refugees?
Since women and children bear the brunt of any such instability, including the effects of climate change, the Socialist International Commission for Sustainable World Society has been calling for their role to be encouraged with a view to developing a sustainable way of thinking towards combating climate change.
Young people around the world, who will truly inherit the earth, have a critical role to play especially since they will be key to the transformation of the ways in which people think and live. Women must also necessarily play an integral role in developing a global response to dealing with the phenomenon of climate change, since they have a deeper inclination to reduce energy consumption and can contribute the most towards protecting the environment and achieving sustainable communities.
In addition, as governments rebuild their economies following the global financial crisis, we should attempt to devise and implement policies that refocus and redirect investments and markets on a more sustainable path and stimulate private competition to fund clean industry. In South Africa we hosted a conference earlier this year to deliberate on green jobs. This is also one of the priority areas of our new growth path.
As part of a reassessment of our energy mix, we have also begun to investigate new means of energy production from renewable sources, including wind and solar energy. These are just some of the ways we are attempting a civic approach towards encouraging our citizens to support a more sustainable and environmentally friendly way of living. However, poverty and underdevelopment continues to present a challenge. The need indisputable relationship between sustainability and development is therefore very visible in South Africa.
How can we deal with such challenges that currently seem insurmountable?
The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) has begun to recognise the threat of climate change to international peace and security. Unless we strengthen and implement a progressive approach to reversing global warming and climate change, we could face anarchy and influxes of climate refugees that we are ill-prepared to deal with. We could not have forgotten scenes that we witnessed in Haiti following their devastating earthquake in January this year.
We are seeing that global governance is no longer a concept but an urgent necessity. Politics needs to be global to guarantee peace, security and stability, to safeguard the environment, to generate development and social cohesion and to ensure robust economies that can create fairness and opportunities for all.
Ladies and gentlemen,
No other issue illustrates better the borderless and global nature of the challenges facing us as policy makers today and the need for a global common response than global warming and climate change. The international community will have an opportunity at COP16 beginning of 29 November 2010 to ensure their deliberations set the tone for a productive meeting with a view to concluding a sustainable legally binding climate change agreement by the time we meet in South Africa in 2011. The consequences for developed and developing countries and their people if we do not will be very dire indeed.
Millions of people will be focused on leaders who meet in Cancun to witness how they exercise the responsibilities with which they have been entrusted.
I thank you.
Issued by: Department of Home Affairs
15 Nov 2010
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