Jan 20, 2011
SA should realistically manage Durban climate meeting expectationsBack
Cancun|Copenhagen|DURBAN|Africa|Resources|Africa|China|Mexico|South Africa|United States|Environmental|Joanne Yawitch|Rohitesh Dhawan
© Reuse this
“It’s important that we are very real about what is possible” at the seventeenth conference of the parties (COP17), said Department of Environmental Affairs deputy director-general Joanne Yawitch, who forms part of the South African negotiation team.
“At the same time,” Yawitch continued, “there is a sense that you can’t dump the big political questions anymore. We are going to need to engage with some of the issues that the Mexicans [at COP16 in Cancun] didn’t. So, it puts us in a situation where one must not build expectations too high, but at the same time one must not dumb them down too much either.”
She added that striking the appropriate balance was important to ensure that the conference in Durban did not deliver an agreement that was either meaningless, or unachievable.
At the most recent meeting, COP16 in Cancun, Mexico kept expectations for a legally binding agreement very low, compared with the COP15 gathering in Copenhagen, which had high expectations but delivered only disappointment.
One of the major issues was the changing political dynamics between member states. The US was unlikely to move very far in the negotiations owing to domestic politics, while other countries such as China would not take on obligations unless the US did.
Expectations were likely to be high leading up to the Durban meeting, because the first commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol ends in 2012, and the world is looking for clarity on the framework under which emissions reduction will operate going forward.
It is as yet unclear whether there would be a second legally-binding commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol, or whether an entirely new treaty would be established, or whether a non-legally binding treaty would be established.
South Africa put forward its country commitments on greenhouse gas emission (GHG) reduction at Copenhagen in 2009, and now further work is needed at a sectoral level to reach these targets.
At the 2009 climate change conference, under the Copenhagen Accord, South Africa said that its emissions would peak, and plateau and decline.
It committed to take nationally appropriate mitigation actions to enable a 34% deviation below the ‘business as usual' emissions growth trajectory by 2020, and a 42% deviation below the ‘business as usual' trajectory by 2025.
The reduction commitments were conditional on receiving financial and technology assistance from developed nations.
The commitments were once again reiterated at the 2010 conference in Cancun, where agreements within the purely political Copenhagen Accord, were more formally recognised, and the Cancun Agreement emerged.
“We need to start looking at, how do we peak, plateau and decline? What is it that we are going to need to do, and what is it that we need from the international community to do more, to reach what we listed in Copenhagen? I think the challenge for business - and I think we have engaged with it around the [national] policy process in quite a lot of detail - is to say, what does that mean for business sector by sector, and then eventually industry by industry?” questioned Yawitch.
KPMG resources economist and sustainability adviser Rohitesh Dhawan reiterated that the major message for business taken from the Cancun meeting was that “success in the green economy will be driven by business through governments, and not by governments through business”.
He said that both the public and private sectors needed to fully grasp the opportunities that could be presented by nationally appropriate mitigation actions and low carbon development strategies.
“Its becoming fairly evident that the global climate policy will consist of individual national country actions, joined up to some framework. Within these individual national country actions the private sector will play an increasingly important role, both on adaptation and mitigation through technology and finance,” he said, highlighting the need for robust government and business dialogue.
Edited by: Mariaan Webb© Reuse this Comment Guidelines (150 word limit)
Other Environment News
Updated 1 hour 53 minutes ago The Cabinet-approved support package for Eskom has reaffirmed that tariff adjustments “remain the key mechanism that will provide the electricity supply industry with a sustainable solution”, but it also included a further allocation of funds – no figure was provided...
Updated 2 hours 34 minutes ago China has extended 26-billion CFA francs ($51-million) in funding to Mali, the West African country said on Friday, as it negotiates a programme with the International Monetary Fund. President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita reached the agreement, which includes a gift of...
Updated 2 hours 40 minutes ago Tanzania signed a $565-million deal on Friday with the World Bank and other development partners to expand its main port of Dar es Salaam, part of plans to boost the east African nation's role as a regional trade hub. Tanzania wants to lift capacity to 28-million...
Recent Research Reports
Road and Rail 2014: A review of South Africa's road and rail infrastructure (PDF report)
Creamer Media’s Road and Rail 2014 report examines South Africa’s road and rail transport system, with particular focus on the size and state of the country’s road and rail network, the funding and maintenance of these respective networks, and the push to move road...
Real Economy Year Book 2014 (PDF Report)
This edition drills down into the performance and outlook for a variety of sectors, including automotive, construction, electricity, transport, steel, water, coal, gold, iron-ore and platinum.
Real Economy Insight: Automotive 2014 (PDF Report)
This four-page brief covers key developments in the automotive industry over the past 12 months, including an overview of South Africa’s automotive market, trade figures, production and the policies influencing the sector.
Real Economy Insight: Construction 2014 (PDF Report)
This five-page brief covers key developments in the construction industry over the past 12 months. It provides an overview of the sector and includes details of employment in the sector, infrastructure and municipal spending, as well as insight into companies’...
Real Economy Insight: Electricity 2014 (PDF Report)
This five-page brief covers key developments in the electricity industry over the past 12 months, including details of State-owned power utility Eskom’s generation activities, funding and tariffs, independent power producers and prospects for the sector.
Real Economy Insight: Road and Rail 2014 (PDF Report)
This six-page brief covers key developments in the road and rail industries over the past 12 months, including details of South Africa’s road and rail network and prospects for both sectors.
This Week's Magazine
The board of UD Trucks Southern Africa (UDTSA) has announced the resignation of MD Jacques Carelse. Long-time UD employee, corporate planning and marketing GM, Rory Schulz, has been appointed as acting MD while the process started to appoint a new MD. The Japanese...
There is a need to start planning another pumped storage scheme in South Africa. Much work has already been done at a site in the Limpopo province and the project was very close to being put out to tender at one stage. In 2008/9 the National Energy Regulator of South...
The Coega Development Corporation (CDC) is preparing to leverage its strategic coastal position to develop the Eastern Cape economy through proposed aquaculture development zones (ADZs), with a proposed R2-billion project aiming to contribute $278-million to the...
Completion of the ongoing construction of the 102 km Zomba–Jali–Phalombe–Chitakale road, in southern Malawi, has been extended from June to December 15 because of persistent rains and difficulties in paying the contractor. The project is being undertaken by Kuwait's...
The Malawi government has awarded South African firm Fischer Consortium the contract to upgrade the Malawi Road Traffic Information System. The Directorate of Road Traffic and Safety Services at Malawi's Ministry of Transport and Public Works says Fischer...