South Africa, as the host of the seventeenth Conference of the Parties (COP 17) meeting in Durban later this month, should use the climate change gathering as an opportunity to demonstrate to the world that it was ready for investment in a low carbon economy, deputy British High Commissioner Martin Reynolds said on Tuesday.
Over the past three years, South Africa has become a different place, he said, adding that the country has made significant strides in response to climate change, which now cuts across all government departments.
South Africa should demonstrate and promote the climate change actions that it has taken to also underline what it has achieved, he said at the WWF South Africa and National Business Initiative pre-COP 17 summit in Johannesburg.
“It is a chance for South Africa to be a role model for other developing countries. And it will strengthen the message that a transition to a green economy is not the preserve of the developed world,” he said.
But, Reynolds pointed out that South Africa must drive a “one-government approach” and align all the various policy directives and deliver programmes that would support South Africa greenhouse-gas emission reduction target of 34% below business as usual by 2020.
Meanwhile, he believed that COP 17 would provide the opportunity to agree to a climate package that would continue to build the global architecture on issues including climate finance, technology, measurement and reporting and verification of emissions reduction and accounting rules.
“The conference must also ensure that there is a better understanding of the gap between the existing pledges and the 2 °C target and what we can do to close the gap, as well as making progress towards a global agreement,” Reynold explained.
As president of COP 17, South Africa must lead discussions towards the outcome commonly sought by all and to mediate, rather than facilitate discussions.
He added that the legal issues left over from COP 16, in Cancun last year, for South Africa to manage could still undermine real progress.
Like South Africa, the UK believed that the transition to a low carbon economy was both a moral and economic imperative.
“It’s about building a new, sustainable economic paradigm, and breaking the umbilical link with fossil fuels and thereby avoiding the price shocks that have had a massive impact on our economies,” he explained.
The current financial crisis, Reynolds said, would not change this view. On the contrary, he believed “now was the time to build a new green economy from the ashes of the current economic meltdown”