Doha — Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs Edna Molewa is positive that a favourable agreement will be reached at COP18 on Friday, despite concerns that negotiations around issues such as aid to poor nations and levels of emissions cuts could deadlock.
"From a report that we got, negotiators have almost exhausted the technical issues. The remaining technical issues can only be unlocked when political discussions start this week. These are issues around finance and also the commitment of countries on the level of ambition," said Molewa at the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP18/CMP8) underway in Doha, Qatar on Tuesday.
A key issue for developing and developed countries is the Long Term Cooperation Agreement (LCA), which is expected to expire at the end of the year.
One of the mandates that came out of the COP17 Durban conference in 2011 was to finalise the negotiations under the Adhoc Working Group on Long-term Co-operative Action (AWGLCA) so that the AWG LCA can be terminated in Doha.
"In doing so, it would be important to reach an agreement on how to treat unresolved issues in mitigation, adaptation, technology and finance."
South Africa views COP18 as an implementation conference, one where key decisions must be made on issues such as closing the LCA and establishing certain institutions that were agreed on in Cancun and Durban. If parties do not agree on the termination of the negotiations under the AWG LCA, it will have a negative effect on the resolution of a complex set of issues to finalise the second Commitment Period of the Kyoto Protocol.
According to some reports, the EU has called for a conclusion to the LCA, citing that future funding for the climate mitigation and technology transfer to poor nations will be handled through processes that were initiated in Durban last year.
One of the triumphs of Durban was the resurgence of multilateralism. Molewa said that multilateralism must be kept at the highest level on a continuous basis.
"Post-Durban, there has been cementing of relationships and a certain level of confidence that has been built in multilateralism. The world is continuously ready to hang on to and a multilateralism lot has been achieved though multilateralism," she said.
One of the reasons why South Africa is fighting hard for the retention of the Kyoto Protocol is because it has rules and at the time when negotiations for the second period took place in Durban, it was the only multilateral system that was rules based.
"What we were saying at the time was that if we had to lose the Kyoto Protocol completely it meant that the whole world had to renegotiate rules right from the beginning."
The minister said it was important to continue to work under the convention towards the new agreement. "Remember we are working from a two-track system towards a one-track system giving us one international agreement. That's exciting because it means we will all be bound by the same rules."
The last mandate for Doha that emerged from the Durban talks was the launch of the Adhoc Working Group for the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action (ADP). The ADP was launched in June this year, and South Africa hopes that the Doha talks will work towards agreeing on a plan of work for the group.
Molewa is happy with the progress of the ADP talks at COP18. "It's going very well. That is the one-track process that is going very well. There are just a few sticky issues such as finance and mitigation. The advantage though is that it is chaired by Norway and India."
Those that are involved in the high-level talks this week know what is at stake and seem keen on finding solutions.
"Everyone understands that if these talks don't succeed we could have a repeat of 2007, and nobody wants to see that happen."