Greenpeace claims Zuma poorly represented Africa

29 November 2011 - 02:06 By NIVASHNI NAIR
President Jacob Zuma.
President Jacob Zuma.

Though President Jacob Zuma told delegates at COP17 that climate change in the developing world was a "matter of life and death", he has been slammed for failing to use his opening address to highlight the urgency for binding agreements.

Shortly after Zuma delivered his address to delegates from 191 countries at the biggest event in Durban's history, global environmental organisation Greenpeace said he had poorly represented Africa and other developing countries.

"Greenpeace decries the lack of leadership for Africa that President Zuma displayed in his opening remarks.

''Durban must not be the burial ground for the Kyoto Protocol and Zuma must not be the pall bearer," it said in a statement.

The Kyoto Protocol commits 37 developed countries to reducing carbon emissions to 5% below 1990 levels by 2012.

Greenpeace's Ferrial Adam said Zuma wasted an opportunity to highlight the urgency for proper resolutions and appeared "unconcerned about the current situation".

Zuma told delegates that South Africa was doing its "fair share to the global effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions".

"At COP15 in Copenhagen, we announced our commitment to reduce carbon emissions by 34% in 2020 and by 42% in 2025 with support from developed countries with regards to finance, technology and capacity-building. We have gone some way towards implementing this undertaking," he said.

Zuma urged the delegates to work towards "a balanced, fair and credible outcome".

However, Greenpeace accused Zuma of presenting policies that only exist on paper.

"South Africa remains the highest emitter on the continent, while its current energy plans block out hope of delivering large-scale renewable energy," it said.

The newly elected president of the conference, International Relations and Cooperation Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, said Durban would be a "decisive moment for the future of the multilateral rules-based regime".

"In Durban, we need to show the world that we are ready to solve our very real problems in a practical manner," she said.