Nonprofit organisation the Sustainable Energy Society of Southern Africa (Sessa) has embraced the opportunity the seventeenth Conference of the Parties (COP 17) will provide to add impetus to creating competitive green industries, local green collar jobs and a low-carbon future.
The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) has been adopted by many nations to consider what can be done to limit global warming.
“South Africa’s future growth path is set against the backdrop of several crucial aspects, including commitments made by President Jacob Zuma. At COP 15, in Copenhagen, Denmark, in 2009, Zuma committed the country to reducing its greenhouse-gas (GHG) emissions by 34% by 2020 and a further 8% by 2025,” Sessa ambassador Irvan Damon says.
The Kyoto Protocol agreement will come to an end next year and, at this stage, there is no replacement.
“The difference between the conference and the protocol is that the conference encourages industrialised countries to stabilise GHG emissions and the protocol commits them to do so,” asserts Damon.
At COP 15, Zuma argued that the conference should adopt a two-track negotiation process for industrialised nations and developing nations.
COP 17 will be hosted by South Africa, in Durban, from November 28 to December 9, and the objective is to advance the implementation of the conference, the Kyoto Protocol, the Bali Action Plan, which was agreed to at COP 13, and the Cancun Agreements reached at COP 16.
Damon states that International Relations and Cooperation Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, who is the incoming COP 17 presi- dent, highlighted a number of areas where she believes gains must be made, including pinning down the legal obligations of the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol, cementing a global agreement within a two-track negotiating framework for developed and developing countries and identifying the support African nations will receive to carry out their obligations and cope effectively with the impact of climate change.
KPMG director of climate change and sustainability services Neil Morris believes COP 17 is more likely to have practical outcomes.
“The world is moving to a low-carbon development path and local business must adapt. Our energy systems and use need to be transformed. Businesses need to prepare to change,” he says.
Further, new opportunities are emerging for low-carbon investment in developing countries and there is a signal of renewed confidence to investors in carbon markets.
He points out that business opportunities lie within meeting the demands of an increasingly ecoconscious consumer base. Until recently, business and civil society have been observers to the conference and protocol. “The time is ripe for them to take an active role in the negotiations at COP 17,” says Damon.
Sessa will be present at the conference and has urged members and other companies active in sustainable energy fields, as well as consumers, to engage with it ahead of the conference and add their concerns to the organisation’s.
Damon concludes: “This is the World Cup of climate change – let us show the world what we have; let us be in it to green it.”