/ 17 September 2009

SA presses financial concerns over climate deal

A finance package footing the bill for developing nations to develop clean energy and adapt to climate change will make or break climate negotiations, coal-reliant South Africa said on Wednesday.

Africa’s most industrialised country said emerging nations and the developed world were still poles apart on how targets should be set to reduce carbon emissions only months away from a crucial climate summit in Copenhagen.

”We are so far apart that to bring us together is going to be quite a difficult thing,” Deputy Director General of the Environment Ministry Joanne Yawitch told a parliamentary portfolio committee.

She said rich nations had failed to fulfil a legal obligation in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change to finance efforts to combat climate change in emerging nations.

”That finance has never been put on the table in any meaningful sense and at the heart of this negotiation is going to be the extent to which there is a meaningful financial package put on the table and what the nature of that financial package is,” said Yawitch.

South Africa is one of the world’s worst offenders when it comes to greenhouse gas emissions, but is not legally required to commit to emissions reduction under the Kyoto Protocol international environment treaty.

The government has remained firm it will not assent to any definite reduction targets, which will affect economic growth, while developed countries argue it is time for emerging countries to take on legally binding agreements.

Heading to a G20 summit in Pittsburgh next week, the issue of raising finance for climate change has become more urgent.

Environmental Minister Buyelwa Sonjica told journalists on Tuesday she wants the world’s richest nations to come up with the 0,5% to 1% of global gross domestic product ($200-billion to $400-billion) by 2020 it is projected will be needed by developing countries.

”That is the kind of commitment we need from them. The $400-billion takes into account funding for both adaptation and mitigation respectively. We need the money as in yesterday,” said Sonjica.

Yawitch said South Africa was committed to finding new, cleaner ways of fuelling its economy, but that with a coal-fired economy, this would take resources the country could not quite muster.

Embattled energy giant Eskom has had to defer mostly renewable energy projects — nuclear, wind, and concentrated solar power — due to financial difficulties.

”If we are going to take this leap into a different way of doing things we are going to need … financing and support.” — Sapa-AFP