/ 20 October 2015

South Africa compares world climate plan to ‘apartheid’

United Nations secretary general Ban Ki-moon has received a black belt in the Korean martial art
United Nations secretary general Ban Ki-moon has received a black belt in the Korean martial art

South Africa’s delegate criticised a draft United Nations accord on fighting climate change as a form of “apartheid” against developing nations.

Negotiations in Germany on the draft text of a climate rescue pact – to be signed at a November 30 to December 11 summit in Paris – got off to a stormy start on Monday with developing nations saying their demands had been omitted from the pared down 20-page draft.

“It is just like apartheid,” Nozipho Joyce Mxakato-Diseko, South Africa’s delegate who speaks on behalf of the main grouping of more than 130 developing nations and China, told the meeting.

“We find ourselves in a position where in essence we are disenfranchised,” she said, saying the views of the poor had been ignored. 

Developing countries said the draft, drawn up by two senior diplomats, favoured rich nations and failed to stress that developed nations needed to take the lead in cutting greenhouse gas emissions and to provide far more aid and clean energy technology.

Confident of agreement
US delegation leader Trigg Talley said the new text could work as a basis for talks. “This document has many things that most parties cannot agree with,” he said. Rich nations want to ensure that emerging economies will commit to act.

Christiana Figueres, the UN’s climate chief, expressed confidence the talks were on track for a deal at the Paris summit, meant to cut greenhouse gas emissions blamed for global warming that is causing more frequent and severe floods, droughts, heatwaves and rising sea levels.

“We will get to an agreement by the end of Paris,” she said. “Perhaps the reaction here is that we went from a text that has too much in it to a text that has too little.”

The developing nations won a demand on Monday that they could re-insert national demands into the text, raising fears by some that it could again become unwieldy. The previous version ran to 80 pages.

No ‘plan B’
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon urged negotiators to drop narrow national interests.  “We don’t have any ‘plan B’ because we don’t have any ‘planet B'”, he said.

“There is no time to waste. It has been quite frustrating to see negotiators negotiating only based on their very narrow national perspectives. This is not a national issue, it’s a global issue.” – Reuters