SA takes on big guns

30 November 2011 - 02:19 By NIVASHNI NAIR
Minister of the Environment and Water Affairs Edna Molewa. File photo.
Minister of the Environment and Water Affairs Edna Molewa. File photo.

South Africa's gloves came off slowly yesterday when Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs Edna Molewa told the developed world to show as much commitment to climate change as developing countries.

Diplomatic yet firm, Molewa said developed countries' pledges needed to be greater to reach goals for the reduction of damaging carbon emissions.

She explained that, for South Africa to implement its green policy fully, developed countries would have to meet their legal obligations to provide financial, capacity building, technology development and transfer support through the UN.

The US and Saudi Arabia have still not agreed to support the Green Climate Fund, which is aimed at making $100-billion available to developing countries by 2020 to mitigate, and adapt to, the effects of climate change.

The US wants to iron out issues such as private-sector involvement and wants to know which countries would contribute.

Molewa said that, though the two countries had indicated that they were not happy with the agreement, they would not stand in the way of establishing the fund.

"Though no majority is needed for this agreement, every country matters. But there is sufficient consensus to take this forward and for it to be tabled at COP17," she said.

Molewa called for "ship jumpers" such as Canada and Japan to "engage" in the conference.

She said it was too early for her to make statements on rumours that Canada had decided to pull out of the Kyoto Protocol, which commits 37 developed countries to reducing carbon emissions to 5% below 1990 levels by 2012.

Greenpeace campaigner Tove Ryding said: "Canada has been a bad joke of these negotiations for a very long time . Canada needs to step up and it seems as if Canada just hasn't got the message."

The World Meteorological Organisation said global temperatures this year are the 10th-highest on record and that the extent of Arctic sea ice in 2011 was the second-lowest on record.

"Our science is solid and proves unequivocally that the world is warming and that this warming is due to human activities," the organisation's secretary-general, Michel Jarraud, said.