Zuma: Climate commitments not enough

The financial commitments some developed countries have made on the reduction of greenhouse gases was welcome but not nearly enough, President Jacob Zuma said on Tuesday.

Speaking during a three-day state visit to Zambia, Zuma referred to the climate change negotiations under way in the Danish capital of Copenhagen.

“We will go to Copenhagen next week and strongly push our position as the African continent,” he said.

The African continent needed a strengthened international climate regime that ensured global reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, “in accordance with what is required by science”.

This would ensure the impact of climate change did not undermine development in South Africa and the rest of Africa, through drought, floods, water scarcity, health impacts, job losses, sea level rise and others.

The Copenhagen negotiations were fundamentally about how to reflect the principle of common, but differentiated responsibility in a strengthened international climate change regime, Zuma said.

For South Africa, this meant that on mitigation, all developed countries should, in line with their historic responsibility for past emissions, and in accordance with science, commit to ambitious emission reduction targets.

Developing countries would commit to nationally appropriate mitigatory action, to achieve a decline in their emissions on condition that they received finance, technology and capacity building support from developed countries.

“We cannot accept an outcome in which mitigation commitments of developed countries, and mitigation actions of developing countries are reflected in a common format with common legal status, and with a common system of measuring, reporting and verifying mitigation efforts,” he said.

This would undermine the principle of common but differentiated responsibility.

“Our view is that an ambitious and long-term financing package for both adaptation and mitigation is a central element of the Copenhagen negotiations, and one that will have significant impact on the extent to which developing countries can take mitigation action.

“We therefore welcome the commitments on finance that are being made by some developed countries.

“However, these remain extremely limited and do not come close to the scale required, which is at least $100-billion per annum for mitigation, and $100-billion per annum for adaptation,” Zuma said.—Sapa

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