Zuma calls for ‘just’ climate deal

Global climate talks aimed at reducing harmful emissions should be resolved fairly, taking into account the interests of both rich and poor countries, South African President Jacob Zuma said on Friday.

South Africa, whose over-reliance on coal-fired power stations make it Africa’s worst polluter, said on Thursday it would not agree to any emission-cutting targets if doing so hurt its recession-hit economy.

International talks resume in December in Copenhagen where countries will try to agree a new international climate change regime beyond 2012 amid increased discord over the role developing countries can play in reducing harmful emissions.

”It is critical that we address these challenges in a coordinated, just and equitable manner, that takes into account the needs of all humanity, no matter how rich or powerful,” Zuma said at a South Africa-European Union Summit.

”As we prepare for the UN Summit on climate change in Copenhagen … we must do everything we can to find each other on the critical issues that face us,” he said.

African veto threatened
Britain said on Tuesday that talks in Denmark to agree a successor to the Kyoto Protocol would fail unless politicians from developing countries focused more on the longer-term climate threat and not an economic downturn.

African countries, which would be worst hit by droughts and floods as temperatures rise, have threatened to veto any climate change deal if rich countries do not meet their demand for money, which some experts said could be up to $200-billion a year.

Kyoto, which expires in 2012, committed most developed countries to cut their emissions, but did not set targets for poorer nations whose per capita emissions were much lower.

The summit in South Africa was co-chaired by Zuma and Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt, who holds the 27-country EU’s rotating presidency, and dealt with a range of issues, including the global economic crisis, climate change and peace and security.

Reinfeldt said the EU would like to see developed countries cutting emissions between 25% and 40%, starting with 1990 levels. ”And on developing countries a lowering of 30% from the business as usual levels,” he said.

At a media briefing later, Reinfeldt said negotiations needed to be speeded up to deliver an agreement in Copenhagen.

”We need a global peaking of emissions by 2020,” he said.

The EU on Thursday outlined a scaled-back offer to help poor nation combat global warming, offering between €two-billion and €15-billion a year by 2020, down from a suggested €24-billion a year.

A joint South African-EU communique agreed that scaled-up funding was necessary, especially for the most vulnerable countries, while the world moved towards a low-carbon economy. — Reuters

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Wendell Roelf
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