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
Recent Research Reports
Defence 2014: A review of South Africa's defence industry (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Defence 2014 report examines South Africa’s defence industry, with particular focus on the key participants in the sector, the innovations that have come out of the sector, local and export demand, South Africa’s controversial multibillion-rand...
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.
This Week's Magazine
The broad-based black economic-empowerment (BBBEE) alignment process in the con-struction sector has begun, dur-ing which the sector codes of the Construction Sector Charter Council (CSCC) will be aligned with the revised Codes of Good Practice (CoGP), which come...
It is second time lucky for Toby Venter. Ten years ago he negotiated to buy the Kyalami racetrack, but “the deal did not materialise”.
Environmental solutions company I-Cat started construction work on its R22-million, 1 949 m2 environmentally sustainable office and warehouse facility, commissioned by I-CAT Environmental Solutions, at a launch event in October. The new sustainable I-CAT campus,...
Effective file synchronisation and sharing across an organisation’s structures can provide the basis for robust mobile-device and document management while maintaining proper backup, version control and content distribution. These are the lessons learned by complex...
Hotel group Carlson Rezidor currently holds the largest hotel pipeline in Africa with 30 hotels and 6 300 rooms under development. The hotel group develops and operates Radisson Blu in the upper upscale segment and Park Inn by Radisson in the mid-market segment. With...