It was unrealistic for developing countries such as South Africa to commit to carbon emission targets, because of their economic status, said Environment Minister Buyelwa Sonjica on Tuesday.
Addressing the media in Kempton Park, Sonjica said the government would not sign any deal at the upcoming climate change conference committing itself to anything that would compromise the country’s economic development.
”We know we are culprits in emitting carbon because we generate our energy from coal [but] South Africa is a country with social and socioeconomic issues. A sizeable amount of our population is without electricity so you have to factor all those issues before you can move away from coal completely,” she said.
”The greatest challenges being faced is how to ensure energy security and access while not negatively impacting on our developmental imperatives, and at the same time laying the foundation for moving towards a path of low carbon growth,” she said.
While the country was committed to reducing its carbon footprint, developing countries like South Africa could not be judged on the same scale as countries like the United States, said Sonjica.
”We are really expecting developed countries like the United States to take the lead and make bold commitments,” Sonjica said.
”The [United Nations] Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) assessment report said while all of us have to take responsibility in casting the emission of gasses, our responsibility and capability are not the same,” she said.
Sonjica was speaking ahead of the United Nations climate change conference to be held in Copenhagen, Denmark, in December.
The minister’s hopes for the conference were that it produces a ”deal that will be favourable to developed and the developing countries”.
Some of the issues she hoped would be addressed were funding for developing countries, to enable them to address challenges of climate change.
”For South Africa, a successful outcome is one that is inclusive, fair and effective … success in Copenhagen should strengthen climate resilient development and must urgently assist the world’s poorest and most vulnerable to adapt,” she said.
While South Africa was still in the process of calculating the amount of money it needed to address climate change challenges, African countries needed between $200 and 400-billion, she said. – Sapa