26 September 2007

South Africa: Climate Change is a Collective Responsibility

Washington — We all have a common responsibility to act towards achieving climate stability, says Environmental Affairs and Tourism Minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk.

He was addressing the 7th Forum on the State and Development of the Greenhouse Gas Market, International Emissions Trading Association in Washington, Wednesday.

Though different nations had varying responsibilities, all nations had to act to the best of their abilities to combat climate change.

In working towards a fair, effective, flexible and inclusive climate regime beyond 2012, Minister van Schalkwyk said the message from South Africa from the perspective of a developing country was clear:

"We take our responsibilities seriously. We are already making a meaningful contribution within our respective capabilities," he said, adding that they were willing to do more but that they had to be prompted by the north.

Besides broadening participation to include the world's largest historical green house gas emitter, the United States, creating a more empowering technology and financing framework will be a prerequisite.

He stated that no agreement on the international climate architecture would be complete, or politically feasible, if adaptation was not accorded much higher priority in the conference's deliberations.

"Science tells us that greenhouse gas emissions must peak and decline within the next 10 to 15 years," said Minister van Schalkwyk.

The minister singled out three issues which deserved attention - namely broadening the scope of the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), de-fragmenting the status quo and ensuring a more equitable geographic spread of CDM projects.

Long term ambitious commitments and much stricter mid-term targets for emission cuts by all developed countries are critical to fuel demand in the carbon market, he said.

This would also ensure that we maintain price levels, it would provide adequate time horizons for investors, and at the same time it would increase investment in low carbon economic growth in developing countries.

Should the regime evolve to include new gasses or asset classes after 2012, there should be a concomitant increase in stringency of emission reduction targets.

On Thursday and Friday, Mr van Schalkwyk will be representing South Africa at the Major Economies Meeting on Climate Change and Energy Security which was called by US President George W. Bush.

South Africa is the only African country to have been invited.

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