/ 6 March 2009

Climate summit ‘a milestone to building long-term policies’

The 2009 Climate Summit is a milestone on the road to building a national consensus on the country’s long-term climate policies, Minister of Environmental Affairs and Tourism Marthinus van Schalkwyk said on Friday.

He was speaking at the close of the National Climate Change Summit at Gallagher Estate in Midrand.

”The summit far exceeded our expectations, there could not have been a stronger expression of political will by government and other stakeholders,” he said.

He said a deeper understanding of scientific evidence displayed at the summit would help with policy making and a greater commitment to moving forward in addressing climate change issues.

Initially, 700 delegates — which later rose to 893 — attended the summit. They were from various sectors including government, business, labour and civil society.

Van Schalkwyk said the summit laid the foundations for a participatory process which would culminate in a ”policy white paper on climate change by 2010”.

”The summit was designed to be forward-looking, translating political will and the best available scientific evidence into policy and action.

”The summit was also a celebration of what we have achieved over the past four years … Since the first climate summit in 2005 we have made major strides by integrating climate change issues.”

He said that even though the summit ended on a positive note, important challenges and tough decisions still lay ahead.

”We will continue to grapple and engage on areas where consensus still eludes us. Most importantly on the optimal energy mix for the country. This is the single most important area of work.”

He said various gaps were identified and all stakeholders including national, provincial and local government would attend to these gaps as a top priority. — Sapa