SA, EU discuss climate change

ecPretoria – South Africa and the European Commission on Thursday stressed the importance of intensifying urgent action to address the issue of climate challenge at international, regional, national and grassroots levels.

Minister of Environmental Affairs Edna Molewa and Maroš Šefčovič, Vice President of the European Commission for the Energy Union, met to discuss cooperation on climate change in Johannesburg.

Minister Molewa conveyed government’s appreciation to the EU for its ongoing support to a number of environmental projects in South Africa and elsewhere in Africa.

The two confirmed that environment and climate change remain a priority area for bilateral cooperation, as outlined in the South Africa – European Union (SA-EU) Strategic Partnership of 2007.

The Department of Environmental Affairs said they agreed to enhance their dialogue in these areas, notably covering the green and ocean economy in the context of the SA EU Forum on Environment and Sustainable Development.

Minister Molwea and Šefčovič noted progress in development cooperation with EU support through non-governmental organisations to projects ranging from waste management to eco-tourism and permaculture gardens to carbon farming, with many of these projects being co-funded by the South African government.

The department said the EU reiterated its support to South Africa’s infrastructure development through the Infrastructure Investment Programme for South Africa (IIPSA), which is managed by the Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA).

The programme focusses on sustainable energy, transport, waste and water management.

South Africa is also one of the six beneficiary countries under the EU-funded SWITCH Africa Green programme implemented by UN agencies, targeting sustainable consumption and production practices.

The department said the Minister and Vice President reaffirmed their shared commitment to secure the adoption of an ambitious new Protocol under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) at COP21/CMP11 in Paris in December.

“This would mark the successful conclusion of the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action, upon which the current round of multilateral negotiations is based,” it said.

South Africa welcomed the EU’s pledge to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by at least 40 percent by 2030 as compared to 1990. South Africa is finalising its preparations to submit its INDC to the UN in time for inclusion in the UN’s synthesis report on the aggregate effect of the INDCs.

The contribution would include not only mitigation, but also adaptation and means of implementation, which are of central importance in the current negotiations, said the department.

They Minister’s and Vice President’s delegations also visited the Khangezile School in Springs to get a practical example of South Africa-EU cooperation with regard to the application of green technologies in community centres.