Pretoria – Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa is currently in Paris leading the South African delegation during the High Level Segment of the 21st Conference of Parties (COP 21) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
The conference, which started on Sunday and will run until1 December, is expected to come up with a universal, legally binding agreement that will enable the international community to combat climate change effectively and boost the transition towards resilient, low-carbon societies and economies.
“The Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has a number of simple messages that say that greenhouse gas emissions (GhG) rose more rapidly from 2000 to 2010 than in the previous three decades, growing by roughly 1.0 Gigatonne per year,” the Department of Environmental Affairs said.
The United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) Emissions Gap Report states that global emissions in 2030 will most likely be 14 Gigatonnes above the level that would be consistent with a less than 2ºC temperature increase.
“The UNEP Adaptation Gap Report concludes that by 2050, Africa’s adaptation costs could rise to US$50 billion per year if global warming were to remain below 2ºC, and up to US$100 billion per year for a temperature increase of 4ºC,” the department said.
As part of the Africa Group, South Africa will negotiate for a Paris agreement under the convention that is ambitious, durable, fair and effective.
The department said the agreement must balance environmental and development imperatives and ensure that global emission reduction efforts are adequate to keep global temperatures well below 2ºC.
“The deal must have adaptation at its core and there must be an ambitious outcome on finance, technology and capacity building to support the adaptation and mitigation efforts of developing countries.
“A key position of the Africa Group is that adaptation is a global responsibility,” the department said.
South Africa has been instrumental in the negotiations leading to the establishment of the Warsaw International Mechanism for Loss and Damage associated with the adverse effects of climate change, particularly in developing countries.
“South Africa will continue to do that because we understand and acknowledge that there are limits to adaptation, hence our support for loss and damage to be addressed in the Paris agreement.
“Addressing this issue must be done in a manner that gives assurance that the Warsaw International Mechanism will continue and be strengthened beyond 2017,” the department said.