Minister Molewa: Speech for the national climate change stakeholder workshop, Gallagher Estate
1 Apr 2011
Ladies and gentlemen
Let me first welcome you to this stakeholder consultation, and thank you for having taken time to come and contribute. We have always exchanged views on environment and climate change, whether it is the policy development process or development of our national position. In that exchange of views we have always enriched each other’s understanding of issues and unleashed the South African spirit to action.
In the build-up to the centenary celebrations of the founding of the African National Congress (ANC), the values of social justice and elimination of inequalities, which are aimed at creation of a better life for all our people, remain the central guiding pillars,of our government. However, the creation of a better life for all is (potentially) threatened by the impacts of natural disasters and loss of our biodiversity resulting from climate change. During the last few months, our country has experienced severe rainfall and floods due to the La Nina phenomenon.
These floods and severe droughts we are experiencing threaten human lives, disrupt farming practices, damage infrastructure, lead to loss of life, and are expected to worsen as extremes weather patterns become more frequent due to climate change. Climate change is arguably the biggest challenge facing humankind in this millennium.
It is a fact that most developing countries hardly have adequate budgets to carry minimum national function and therefore finds it difficult if not impossible to respond to climate change. Leadership of the developed countries must begin to be felt in a positive manner. That leadership should be manifested in progress on work towards a comprehensive international regime, recognising the centrality of developing country support in responding to climate change.
As we celebrate the centenary of the African National Congress, we have a responsibility to ensure that our economy, our people, and our environmental resources are resilient to the impacts of climate change.
Ladies and gentlemen, we successfully coordinated the hosting of the World Summit on Sustainable Development in 2002, and the recent FIFA Soccer World Cup in 2010. This is another opportunity to kick-start a national programme of Team South Africa as we host COP17/CMP7 from 28 November to 9 December in Durban. We are therefore gathered here, ladies and gentlemen, to engage and share a workplan by the department on climate change.
South Africa as a country in Africa, characterised by extreme poverty and underdevelopment, with high carbon emissions in comparison other developing countries. The people in villages, our women, other vulnerable groups in rural and peri-urban areas contribute the least to climate change but depend on the healthy state of the environment for their survival. Their experiences must find expression in this Conference of Parties (COP) – an African COP. The youth of this country are the future beneficiaries of whatever state we would leave this planet in.
It is important to recognise that in order for the Durban Conference to be successful, we need to coordinate our activities closely between government and all stakeholders work in the spirit of Team South Africa. Our journey to Durban must facilitate a route that provide platforms for the voice of humanity to be heard in COP 17 where our negotiating mandate must strive for the World they want to live in. We must therefore firstly ensure that there is a successful content outcome at the Conference, and secondly, our visitors should experience the best of our hospitality, and further appreciate our efforts as responsible global citizens in the fight against climate change.
Ladies and gentlemen, on the eve of the Cancun negotiations, we convened the South African stakeholders under the banner of the National Climate Change Committee to present our proposed position that we were going to table at the negotiations. We believe that ours was a principled position, pronouncing on both the architecture and content of a global climate change regime. Your inputs were also accepted by the Cabinet of South Africa as a mandate for our country.
We called for a comprehensive, fair, legally binding agreement along the agreements reached in Bali, 2007. Secondly we called for a balance in climate imperatives of ensuring that temperature rises do not reach dangerous levels, taking into cogniscance relative to developmental imperatives which are a priority for developing countries. Thirdly, we called for equal prioritisation of adaptation and mitigation as climate impacts are already upon us, as I alluded early on.
Ladies and gentlemen, addressing the plenary after conclusion of the Cancun Agreements in December 2010, President Calderon, noted a peculiarity with multilateral process by saying ‘success is achieved when all Parties are somewhat unhappy with the outcome’. And, it is true in Cancun that we made some headway on our position; however some issues were not resolved.
In response to our position we made headway on the prioritization of adaptation in that we reached an agreement on an Adaptation Framework and establishment of a Committee dealing with this important matter, as well as on consideration of development imperatives of developing countries in the form of the Green Climate Fund and a Technology Mechanism that are intended to facilitate support for developing countries. All these agreements have to be elaborated this year with further agreements being reached in Durban. We were happy with that significant achievement.
Areas for which there was no agreement on, which we are obviously not so happy with pertain to the low level of ambition by developed countries which doesn’t satisfy the overall climate imperative goal, furthermore Parties opted for operational decisions and incremental progress and did not address the issue of the legal form; the second Commitment Period and future of the Kyoto Protocol were not resolved; the economic impacts of climate policy of countries on others have not been resolved.
In terms of our plans, which we will outline to you later n during our program today, we will indicate inter alia that the substantive formal negotiations start in June. When we come to you in preparation for the June session of negotiations in Bonn, we would be coming to request your inputs and start engaging on key issues, firstly the emerging paradigm of, bottom-up, concrete incremental actions which may or may not help the world to achieve climate imperatives and with the second paradigm of a comprehensive, legally binding, top down paradigm that is politically difficult to achieve. Make your inputs into our negotiation position and once again help your South African delegation to represent the country and the continent well.
We also come from a continent that is most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. Our journey to COP must provide a platform to collect the multitudes of our diversified experiences but common resolve to ensure that the voice of Africa is heard at COP17. A key partner to ensuring the voice of this mass is heard is civil society. We have come from a proud history of unwavering support across rural and urban, across the borders and formed solidarity across the continent and the globe. This solidarity allowed us to be victorious in one of the biggest challenges to our humanity. The mobilising of our society to act in the face of climate change must be dealt with at that same scale.
Although I stand as government, we want to engage in this mobilisation of our communities to that same scale. Although we may use different channels, civil society must ensure that we carry the aspirations of our people, to champion their own capacity to adapt and respond to climate challenges and that you bring the voice of civil society to the negotiations at COP17. We will create the space and time to listen, today and onwards.
Make your inputs into our negotiation position and again help us represent the country and the continent to the best of our abilities.
Ladies and gentlemen, a second aspect of our preparation is how South Africa can showcase some concrete actions highlighting the successes and challenges we face as a country in responding to climate change. We are developing a concept for a Climate Change Response EXPO in a venue close to the Convention Center. The objective of the EXPO is to increase awareness; show-case sectoral climate actions and innovations, including products; encourage networking amongst stakeholders.
Our vision is that all sector departments, particularly those in the International Marketing Council (IMC), and those with a role in the adaptation and mitigation sectors showcase the best practice and highlight challenges experienced in scaling-up implementation of those actions. These departments should coordinate business, civil society, research and innovation stakeholders within their scope of operation and mandate and ensure that all those role players/stakeholders are on board in showcasing their efforts during the Conference in Durban. These departments and stakeholders should further delegate a representative to it on the national steering committee that will be established. If I can borrow from the negotiators language, we are looking at an IGCCC+ and NCCC+.
Ladies and gentlemen we have done a lot of work towards environment sustainability and greening our country which we have to showcase, ranging from work government is leading on key adaptation programmes like the ‘Working for’ programmes, key mitigation initiatives in areas of renewable energy, electric vehicles, transport infrastructure, and many others. I also understand that business is doing a lot in energy efficiency in operational processes, ‘Carbon Disclosure Project’ which is on buildings, water, energy, and many others. Civil society is doing a lot in areas community climate actions or demonstration projects, outreach and awareness, etc. We have the opportunity to work collectively and put South Africa where it belongs. I understand that during April you will be approached by the department to submit ideas on your participation in the EXPO, and/or in Climate Train initiative led by civil society. We are surely going to need specialist capacity from business (project managers, planners, technology experts, telecomms, accountants,…etc) including financial support and other instruments.
In conclusion, several presentations will be made today, covering aspects of our vision and the work programme for the year. We will therefore look forward to your responses. I encourage you to work with us in shaping this programme, and commit to actions that we can undertake together in the buildup and during the COP in December 2011. The Incoming COP Presidency is South Africa and under the able leadership of Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane who has an enormous and challenging task of unifying the entire vast mandates from the 185 participating countries. We dare not fail her, we dare not fail the country’s leadership. As usual, let us deliver a great COP17 for the world.
I thank you.
For more information contact:
Cell: 083 490 2871
Issued by: Department of Environmental Affairs
1 Apr 2011
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