Doha — African environmental affairs ministers have arrived in Doha, Qatar ahead of the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP18/CMP8) high-level segment talks which will officially kick off tomorrow.
They are among the more than 100 ministers from around the world attending the high-level segment of the meeting, which will also be attended by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon.
At the COP17/CMP7, held in Durban in December 2011, nations agreed and set targets for including working for greater climate change action and taking concrete steps to fill the gaps in the international policy response to climate change COP18 which is currently underway.
Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs Edna Molewa and Deputy Minister Rejoice Mabudafhasi are also attending the conference.
Molewa said South Africa regarded the global climate change response as part of sustainable development agenda and not just a purely environmental issue.
"An effective global solution to the climate change crisis involves the negotiation of delicate balances and trade-offs between a wide range of extremely complex, highly political and sometimes conflicting set of social, economic and environmental development issues," she said.
Molewa added that South Africa needed a strengthened international climate regime that ensured global reductions in greenhouse gas emissions in accordance with what is required by science.
"We need to ensure that the impacts of climate change do not undermine development in our own country, the African continent and the world at large," she said.
The outcomes from COP17/CMP7 inform South Africa's position going into this week.
These outcomes, which followed a three-pronged approach, include implementing urgent action from 2013 to 2020 and the adoption of a second Commitment Period under the Kyoto Protocol and a number of institutional mechanisms such as the Green Climate Fund; having acknowledged the inadequate commitments to reduce emissions made to date, a work programme was agreed to in an effort to increase current pre-2020 levels of ambition; and lastly action for the future with the negotiation of a legal agreement for the period beyond 2020.
COP17/CMP7 also led to the establishment of the Durban Platform - the Ad hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action - which is tasked to, among others, to take the next steps necessary to negotiate a global climate change agreement to be adopted by 2015, and to enter into force from 2020.
"It is the responsibility of COP18/CMP8 to decide on how to deal with all issues that do not find satisfactory resolution by the end of 2012. However, what is clear is that all the necessary arrangements for mitigation and finance are clarified in Doha, including operationalize all agreed to institutions," said Molewa.
Meanwhile, Ban said he hoped that the Doha Climate Change Conference will extend the Kyoto Protocol when its first commitment period expires at the end of this year. The second period will begin on 1 January 2013.
He further hoped that all these agreed international institutions like the Green Climate Fund and Climate Technological Centre Networks should be established in Doha. "We should discuss and formulate how we can mobilise the necessary funding," he added.
This is the first United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change conference to be hosted in a Gulf oil-producing country.