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The climate change conference set for Durban, South Africa next week, provides an opportunity for the global community to reach a binding agreement towards the common goal of rescuing the planet, but deep divisions remain on the way forward.
The 17th Conference of Parties (COP 17) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change will continue negotiations toward a global consensus on a second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol which expires in 2012.
Comparable emission reductions for industrialised non-Kyoto Parties will be central to the outcome of the Durban conference.
“Climate change is threatening to our future and that of our planet, and we must act now if we are to save tomorrow,” the incoming COP17 ministerial chairperson, Maite Nkoana-Mashabane of South Africa said, adding that “no single country, no matter its size or power, can take on this challenge on its own.”
“We can only succeed when we work together as the international community, reading from the same page, and acting in concert for a common goal. It is therefore, our wish that this conference will become a platform for the world to take a significant step towards a future climate change regime.”
Nkoana-Mashabane said on-going talks are encouraging and the global community should build on this to make COP17 a success.
At the last summit, a draft agreement was reached, representing a small step towards a global deal. However, the progress was far from satisfactory, particularly for developing countries as it did not address their position on a number of issues including carbon emissions levels, as well as increased finance, technology and capacity for adaptation and risk management.
As a result of this, there is scepticism about the magnitude of the figures and the conditions to access funds under the proposed Green Climate Fund, which expects to raise and disburse about US$100 billion a year by 2020, starting with US$30 billion in 2012 to support mitigation and adaptation actions in developing countries.
Africa also argues that global temperature rises should be kept below 1.5 degrees instead of the proposed target of below 2 degrees.
At their annual meeting held in Namibia, SADC ministers responsible for environment and natural resources management re-affirmed their desire to use the forthcoming climate change conference to press for an outcome that reflects the African priorities, which centre on adaptation, increased finance, technology transfer and capacity building.
The Africa Group of Negotiators on Climate Change (AGN), which met in Durban in August, re-affirmed the need to prioritise climate adaptation to benefit the continent.
“Durban is expected to finalise an ambitious Adaptation Framework, develop guidelines and support for our National Adaptation Plans and build momentum towards a mechanism to compensate for climate-related losses and damage,” said the AGN.
COP17 is scheduled for 28 November to 9 December. SADC Today
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