Workshop on Climate Change and COP 17 Conference (day 2)

Water and Sanitation

13 September 2011
Chairperson: Mr M Johnson (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Chairperson lamented poor attendance on both days of the workshop. He said it was worrisome because Members were expected to communicate complex issues on climate change to their constituencies.

The workshop heard that negotiations on the second commitment period had not been finalised despite the Kyoto Protocol's coming to an end in December 2012. An Africa Group of Negotiators had been formed and would come up with common positions and report to African ministers of environment. The Minister of International Relations and Cooperation would co-preside at the conference. There would be two dominant positions argued at the Conference of the Parties 17 on how best climate change effects could be countered. These were mitigation, where countries cut emissions, and adaptation, where there was sufficient planning for any future disasters. The Scandinavian countries had refused a second commitment period and were ready to ditch the Kyoto Protocol due to the United States of America's unwillingness to be part. A transitional committee had made a good progress in establishing a Green Climate Fund. The Department of Environmental Affairs was organising an expo where business, civil society and Government could come and showcase at the Conference of the Parties 17. Using traditional authorities to educate citizens was also contemplated. There were three possible outcomes in Durban. The first one was the KP Architect where developed countries could agree on the second commitment period. The second scenario was the provisional application of the second commitment period, followed by a transition after 2015. The third scenario would be that there could be no outcome.

 

Members asked for clarity on the African Pavilion and Expo by South Africa at the conference and also demanded a confirmation that South Africa was ready for the Conference of the Parties 17. Members were told that at the centre of the climate change negotiations were the international trade and competitiveness. The workshop heard that increases in temperatures in Africa were likely to be worse than in other regions and average temperatures were estimated at 3% higher by 2100. The Chairperson said that Parliament was devising a climate change tool kit that Members could use when doing constituency work. He also said that  parliamentary work had to be integrated with provincial legislatures, municipalities and Government.

 

Meeting report

Opening remarks
The Chairperson welcomed Members to the second day of the workshop. He announced that the meeting would first take the presentation on the Conference of the Parties 17 (COP17) update, as the presenter from the Department of Environmental Affairs was scheduled to fly to New York on other climate change commitments. Throughout the world all parliaments were beginning to intensify their contributions to climate change, and also it was opportune for South Africa (SA) to be part of the process by conducting awareness campaigns. The programme was driven by House Chairpersons who both could not attend the proceedings. Parliament could not engage stakeholders and communities on climate change if it was not empowered. He said it was unfortunate to see poor attendance on both days of the workshop because Members would be expected to communicate complex issues on climate change to constituencies. He handed over to the Department.

Department of Environmental Affairs presentation
Mr Maesela Kekana, Director: Climate Change, Department of Environmental Affairs, briefed Members on the background to hosting climate change talks in Durban (otherwise known as COP17). He said the climate change negotiations took place under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to which SA was a signatory. UNFCCC came into existence in 1992 and had led to what became known as the Kyoto Protocol. This 2005 set of agreements identified countries in relation to their status on legally binding commitments on climate change i.e Annex One (those who ratified) and Non-Annex parties. He said developed countries that ratified the Kyoto Protocol were expected to reduce green house gases’ output by 5.2% in a period of five years. This period would come to an end in December 2012. Following these Kyoto agreements, an Ad Hoc Working Group was established to discuss the second commitment period.

Mr Kekana said negotiations on the second commitment period were not finalised. The Durban climate change conference was expected to pronounce on the second commitment period. But the challenge was that the United States (US)  had never ratified the Kyoto Protocol, therefore the US was not legally bound by Kyoto Protocol targets. Another Ad Hoc Working Group (Long-term Cooperative Action) was established in Bali (Indonesia) in 2007 to negotiate a separate track for the US. The nations were still disagreeing and nowhere near agreement on the objectives of the Long-term Cooperative Action, but negotiations would continue at COP17. Durban would constitute multiple agendas as there would be meetings of the Conventions two permanent subsidiary bodies, CMP and COP17. He said there could be 10 meetings going on at the same time and that required capacity from participating nations.

Mr Kekana said that the Minister of International Relations, would co-preside on the conference, while the  Minister of Environmental Affairs would lead SA’s delegation. SA still needed to protect and articulate national interest; that was why the Minister had to lead the delegation. While Africa brought fewer people, big countries brought huge delegations to the meetings. He said an Africa Group of Negotiators had been formed to change this scenario. This group would come up with common positions and report to African ministers of environment for endorsement. These were then forwarded to the African Union (AU) via a committee chaired by Ethiopia, and then to the Heads of States. He clarified that AU members articulated their individual views.

SA had committed to the UNFCCC with hope that it would secure a binding multilateral agreement that should be fair and inclusive. The agreement had to balance issues of mitigation and adaptation and recognise that development was a priority. It was important to have a balanced outcome as too much money was spent on mitigation. He said adaptation was key for Africa as there were quantities of greenhouse gases already in the atmosphere that could influence climate change. Adaptation had to be central to the negotiations and Africa was the most vulnerable continent.

N
egotiations took a turn after COP16 (Cancun, Mexico) and that there were two schools of thought in the climate change debate. Mr Kekana said the two were the comprehensive regime and the incremental progress. SA was pushing for the former, and it stipulated a top-down approach where targets were set for developed countries. These countries had to reduce emissions by 40% in 2020 if average temperatures were to be reduced by two degrees Celsius in 2050. There was a general scientific view that temperatures would rise by two degrees by 2050 if nothing was done, and consequences were severe. There was no consensus on this view, and there were attempts to move towards an incremental progress, where countries voluntarily decided contributions. He described incremental progress as a problematic approach but said it was also on the table nevertheless.

Before COP16 in 2010 negotiations sought to build a transparent and comparable framework under the convention for the US, and also negotiate the second commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol. He said the incremental progress, argued since Cancun, had hampered progress. The US still refused to be a signatory to the Kyoto Protocol, and was unlikely to join as it did not have domestic legislation on climate change. President Barack Obama had tried to push legislation through Senate but got no support and as a result had to withdraw. There was a strong attempt to build a comparable framework under the convention along the lines of the Kyoto Protocol. If the US agreed to that, parties who ratified the Kyoto Protocol would willingly sign the second commitment period.

Mr Kekana said another complication was parties who ratified but now want to ditch the Kyoto Protocol like Japan, Russia and Canada. Even the European Union (EU) countries were looking at major developing economies like China, Brazil, India and SA to commit. The EU wanted an understanding from the developing nations that they would take some form of targets. Before COP15 (Copenhagen, Denmark) SA announced its targets but with conditions that it be granted the necessary financial support. He said China was doing well looking at their five year plan. The US pledge was calculated in such a way  that it would match what China had announced. He said China was a developing country and had correctly refused to sign any legally binding agreement as it had to uplift its citizenry out of poverty. China was exemplary; it recognised that it had to develop using technologies that were environmentally friendly. He said China was leading in that regard.

Mr Kekana said the G77+China group (developing nations) had started engaging the EU on possible solutions for Durban. The EU had asked to merge its objectives with the G77, and ministers were engaged in those talks. He said Durban might salvage the Kyoto Protocol but that was not guaranteed. The work for COP17 was informed by what happened in Cancun (COP 16) because in Copenhagen nations could not agree on anything. A Few presidents, including SA President Jacob Zuma, came up with the Copenhagen Accord that was not signed, but simply noted. He said the Copenhagen Accord was finalised in Cancun, and its outcomes included: i) the launch of institutions like the Green Climate Fund, Technology Executive Mechanism, Persian Framework and Response Measure Forum, ii) set-up a process to elaborate on governance and operational modalities of these institutions,  and iii) outlined issues that needed further engagements like the intellectual property rights, legal form of negotiations, second commitment period etc.
Outstanding matters from Cancun would constitute the discussions in Durban. He said work had been undertaken to operationalise the Green Climate Fund. A Transitional Committee, chaired by Mexico and Norway was formed to design the Fund. SA was represented by Minister Trevor Manuel on the Committee. The Committee was expected to report on its progress in Durban. He said the Technology Executive Committee, begun its work recently but there were difficulties. Africa was represented by three people on that Committee but SA did not have a representative.

The Departments of International Relations and Cooperation and Environmental Affairs had hosted a number of meetings to formulate Africa’s position. Africa’s ministers of Environment were meeting in Mali to finalise the continent’s position.

Mr Kekana said it would be important for SA to showcase its work on climate change at the Durban conference. The Department was organising an expo where business, civil society and Government could come and showcase. He said this was one aspect of logistics it was responsible for but other work was being led by DIRCO. The Department wanted to use the Durban conference to educate people on climate change and had thus embarked on road-shows in all provinces. The Eastern Cape and North West had already been visited, but a lot needed to be done to reach the maximum number. He said the Department also contemplated using traditional authorities on climate change awareness among local people. SA needed to start thinking about how it carried the climate change work beyond the Durban conference.

Mr Kekana said SA supported the two tracks of legally binding agreements for Annex One; and that action (not commitment) be taken for Non Annex or developing parties. He said national interest could be fulfilled when all parties were doing something. There was a history to climate change and while highly industrialised nations had to lead, developing countries had to ‘take action’ as they were also emitting. SA supported the second commitment period for those who committed under the Kyoto Protocol. He said undertakings by countries should respond to what science said, and that developing countries needed time and space to change into low carbon emitting economies.

Mr Kekana said not all proposals would be met in Durban. He said the continent had identified five key things and, if met, then the conference would have been a success. The first one was maintaining the integrity of multi-lateral process as it was undermined. Traditional partners had formed a coalition with the US that disregarded the multilateral process as a result of its own challenges. He singled out India as one of those who opted for voluntary systems that were very difficult to monitor.

The second key priority was operationalising institutions that were agreed to in Cancun. He said there were no disagreements on this issue in both the developed and developing countries.

The third key priority was getting a second period commitment under the Kyoto Protocol. He said that although it was not possible for countries to do proper ratification, there were several ways to achieve the second commitment period. However a political agreement on the second commitment period would still be good enough.

The fourth key priority was putting adaptation at the centre of the whole conference outcome.

The fifth key priority area related to finances. There had to be finalisation of this Green Climate Fund. He said if Durban agreed on these then it would have been a success.

Mr Kekana said there were three scenarios of what would happen in Durban. The first one was the KP Architect where developed countries could agree on the second commitment period and finalise the legally binding commitment for the US. He conceded that it would be very difficult.

The second scenario was the provisional application of the second commitment period, followed by a transition after 2015 after the review for a future regime. That seemed to be a more realistic scenario of what could happen in Durban. He said this depended on how parties engaged the EU as it had indicated it was ready to go into the second commitment period.

The third scenario would be that there could be no outcome, on both the Kyoto Protocol and the Convention. It would depend on how negotiations went but it was a scenario that was expected.

Discussion
The Chairperson welcomed Mr M Lekota (COPE) and said he had hoped colleagues from his party would be present. He said Members’ expectations had been raised by the presentation. He said he felt the approach was fragmented by Parliament and the Department. He asked how the African Pavilion and the Expo by SA related as it appeared that emphasis was on the Expo.

Mr J McGluwa (ID) said he had hoped that the presenter would state boldly that SA was ready to host COP17. He raised a concern on how little lobbying was going on among developing countries. The education and awareness campaigns were a little late, as negotiations on climate change had been going on for 15 years. This was something that had to be looked at. He also said he was concerned by the failure at reaching binding agreements, as the earth had moved perilously close to a two degree rise in temperatures. What would SA do to ensure that a binding agreement was reached this time around?

Ms J Manganye (ANC) asked if the political heads were willing to buy in to what SA was proposing. She also asked if there was enough consultation with the stakeholders so as to avoid protests during the conference. She agreed with the presenter’s comment that a lot needed to be done. It was not the elite that had to get education on this because emissions affected everyone. She remarked that the awareness campaigns had to be taken to the rural areas, especially those that had mining activity nearby.

Hon. Buyelwa Sonjica (Former Minister of Water Affairs and a guest) said education and campaigns were needed as the climate change was an evolving issue. She said she was impressed by what the Department was doing. The only thing that needed to happen was the consolidation of all of this process.

Mr Lekota said it appeared that major world role players would be difficult to convince as any agreements would have serious implication for their economies. He asked for an indication of whether there could be a compromise by regional organisations to go easy on the US and convince them to come to the table.

Mr Kekana replied that the Pavilion was agreed to by the AU and would be situated within the conference hall. He said all regional organisations would be showcasing at the Pavilion. SA could not afford to hijack the Pavilion, so it would showcase separately on the Expo outside the conference hall. The Department had already received up to 2000 applications for the Expo.

Mr Kekana said the legally binding agreements were very difficult and a no-go area for the previous conferences. Political heads had already agreed that they would not focus Durban on the issue of binding agreements. He said it was ideal to put systems in place where a foundation was laid. That did not happen in the past and Durban had no formula; it could only build on the Cancun outcomes.

Mr Kekana said those opposed to the legally binding commitment like the US were engaged in discussions. He said Bonn meeting had serious discussion on this, and the US as well had it on the agenda for the meeting of Major Economies Forum, scheduled for the weekend. He said developing countries, especial the Brazil, China and India had to be lobbied on the basis that they could give a perspective on the ongoing negotiations. It was necessary to lobby them on the idea of being more transparent on the action they were taking on climate change. But the second step would be more challenging as it would be to get them to indicate readiness towards something that was more binding. He said much lobbying was needed particularly with regards to India as it had aligned with the US.

Hon. Sonjica said a legally binding agreement was not going to happen at COP17, because the US was about to have elections. She reasoned that two of the presidential nominees from the Republican Party believed that climate change did not exist, and as a result the US congress was infiltrated with other senators holding that view. She said this was contrary to the popular view shared by President Obama that climate change was real. She said all the American political dynamics would play themselves out in Durban; any chance of a positive contribution by the US would jeopardise chances for the re-election of President Obama. The US would not commit to any deal, and without the US there could be no agreement.

Hon. Sonjica said at the centre of the climate change negotiations was the international trade and competitiveness, and that these needed not to be avoided. She said although the battle appeared to be among G77 and Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries, the main players were the US and China. She said a compromise was vital, but the challenge was that America kept shifting the goal posts. Development challenges facing the developing countries and their economies were poverty and other social ills. The question that confronted Durban was how much should the developing world sacrifice. She said SA could not be expected to commit the same way as the Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries as large portions of the country were still very poor.

Presentation by the World Wildlife Fund-South Africa (WWF-SA)
Ms Louise Naudé, National Climate Change Officer: World Wide Fund for Nature-South Africa (WWF-SA), told the Members that social and economic impact of climate change would worsen all the developmental challenges. The poor would not be able to move if there were disasters. She said the poor were the people to keep in mind when negotiations were happening. She said for SA, the most serious effects of climate change would be on water security. SA was a water scarce country and climate change would adversely impact on water availability. In SA there would be ever more drought and rain would come at different times of the year. When rainy seasons changed, agricultural systems and crops adaptable to rain at a certain time would fail.

Ms Naudé said another aspect that would be impacted upon was food security, as crops fail, there would be major impact on the seeds. The wine industry would be impacted on as grapes would not grow easily in a changed climate. She said local fishers on the West Coast were struggling as fish moved with currents. Food security challenges existed in this country; a number of people were unable to put something on the table every night. Climate change would just worsen things. The Western Cape was lucky this year it did not have rains this winter, but flooding in winter would worsen with climate change and consequences were severe.

As countries moved towards low-carbon economies, they would reject SA products as they would have been manufactured using coal generated electricity. Job losses would be worsened by climate change. SA relied heavily on exports. Coal use released carbon dioxide – a green house gas that contributed to the rise in atmospheric temperatures – yet all energy in SA was generated from it. She said this was part of apartheid and colonialisation. SA was dependent on a skewed development that did not support its economy. SA exports would no longer be competitive and countries would no longer want to import heavily coal dependent products. She said climate change would impact on people differently depending on their economic, gender and social status.

If the two degree limitation was passed, certain kinds of impacts would start accelerating to an extent that was unmanageable to human kind. She said climate change happened faster, sooner and worse than scientists had predicted. Temperatures in Africa were likely to be worse than other regions and were estimated at 3% higher by 2100. Ms Naudé said something had to be done now; because the longer it was left the less likely it became achievable. Interactions on the cause and effect chain needed to be on two areas: mitigation, where the world prevented causes of the rise in temperature; or adaptation where there was planning on the effects of climate change. She argued that building capacity to respond to climate change was taking on developmental challenges. Dealing with poverty, gender oppression and rural areas development improved people’s capacity to withstand climate change. She said if people had decent houses they could deal better with extreme temperatures.

There was scientific relation to how much countries emitted and the rise in temperature. Today the world used Carbon Budget, where countries were allowed to emit a certain quantity of carbon in relation to the 2 degree decrease objective. The issue was allocation of the budget fairly among the regions of the world. The developed nations used substation quantity of the budget for their industrialisation and development. The remainder of the Carbon Budget belonged largely to the developing world for it to use for development, citizenry upliftment and efforts to adapt.

Ms Naudé said the agricultural sector – both irrigation and rainy dependent – would be hampered by climate change. Any shift in rain patterns or season will impact on the agricultural product. She said a recent statistic had indicated that SA was the net-importer of food, meaning it could not feed its people. Agricultural yields would generally decline and the world could not afford that. She said the developed countries would not be affected as much as the developing world.

Ms Naudé identified risk of fire, disease shifting, loss of ecosystems and natural resources as issues that would be prominent. She cited malaria as a case in point where mosquitoes shifted southward as a result of temperature being warmer. SA had challenges with TB, HIV/Aids, malnutrition and Cholera and if Malaria was added to these it would just exacerbate issues. She said the country did not have a well developed health system to cope with the burden.

Ms Naudé said there had to be a new economic model to count the financial and human cost of climate change. She said the cost to Africa would be greater if there were delays. SA was trapped in making infrastructure decision on energy and transport that did not take the country on the right development path. She said correcting and directing these decisions would cost more money. She said urban planning had to happen now along the coastal areas. She said rural poor communities and women would be impacted most, as they would have to care for the sick and be further alienated from the economy. She said the on-going programmes in the field of empowering women had to continue, but with climate in mind.

Ms Naudé said solutions included acting sharply, and now. Changes would take decades but the country needed to engage them now. She said the solutions included reverting to a low-carbon economy that did not emit greenhouse gases. Other solutions included, the economy resilient system that prioritise climate, just transition, energy security that did not follow the old path, defending and repairing ecosystems, intelligent use of the Carbon Budget, sustainable development and regional cooperation. She congratulated Government for consultations with stakeholders in the field.

Ms Naudé said although the talks were fragile, parties had to be kept inside COP17 and not be held hostage by obstructionist countries. There was a lot of political work to be done by Parliament particularly with other progressive parliaments around the globe. She said countries were unwilling to fund the Green Climate Fund, but there were two proposals. It could be funded through transport taxes on shipping and international flying; or financial transaction taxes on those trading in currencies around the world.

Hon. Buyelwa Sonjica. A view on international responses to climate change: lessons from experience. Presentation
Hon. Sonjica told Members that the debate on climate change was elitist and too scientifically conducted. She said climate change was part of environmental agenda underpinned by sustainable growth and development. It was important that environment management was linked to sustainable growth and development. Each argument that put greater emphasis on either of the above fields was wrong; they needed to be intertwined.

Hon. Sonjica said the debate on climate change was based on scientific evidence that temperatures were rising at an alarming rate. Hon. Sonjica said while Africa contributed about 4% of emissions, SA contributed half of that. This was what informed positions and debates. The causes of carbon emissions were as a result of human doing like electricity generation, cars, fires etc.

Carbon emissions as they happened today were a legacy of 150 years of industrialisation that benefited the OECD countries. She said the impact of growth and expansion by developing countries would be felt in 50 years time. G77+China contributed less to the effects of climate change as most African states were not well developed; but of all continents, Africa remained vulnerable.

The debate on climate change was a fusion of many elements that created confusion. Hon. Sonjica mentioned seven that, according to her, never came out distinctly as elements. The first element was scientific and provided us the status of climate change. The second was historical; the third was economic and involved compensation of those affected and the cost of doing something and not doing anything about climate change. The fourth was politics, but they were less spoken about; the fifth was social, and addressed issues of how an individual was affected. The sixth element was legal, could there be regulation of activities in the world; and the last was technological capacity to deal with climate change.

Hon. Sonjica said climate change was discussed under the auspices of the United Nations. She said the debate was pursued within a legal framework that constituted UNFCCC, Kyoto Protocol, fourth assessment report and Bali Action Plan. She said negotiators were divided into two groups of countries, developed and developing. She said there were also informal structures like the Major Economies Forum founded by the former US president, George Bush; SA was the only country in Africa that sat in that structure. She said this was a structure where big emitters of the world sat to look at their responsibilities and capabilities. She said other structures were the BASIC group (comprising Brazil, SA, India and China) and AMCEN (the group of environmental ministers in Africa). Although Africa had a common position there were diverse interests in the continent especially that Nigeria and Angola were part of the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).

Hon. Sonjica said all countries had a responsibility towards climate change. She said almost all countries were committed to the reduction of the greenhouse gases, but SA was a leading and a constructive partner in the negotiations. She said the developed countries were responsible for the creation of the problem and were better placed to make a bigger contribution in combating the effects of climate change. The issue here was about the strength of the economies. She said countries could not be treated and put at the same level, hence the common but differentiated responsibility clause in the UNFCCC declaration and the Bali Action Plan. The clause sought to guide fairness as countries did not benefit the same way from industrialisation.

A bigger challenge was getting countries agreeing on legally binding commitments. Hon. Sonjica said all countries wanted to protect national interests at negotiations. Climate change would impact on economies and countries refused to give away what they considered vital. Combating climate change had always led to a review of the national development plan in any country, and therefore the way things were done had to change. This came with cost. She cited an example of SA that had a comparable advantage on coal, and benefited on cheap electricity as a result. With climate change one had to change the development plan as technology to refine the coal into cleaner energy source was needed. That had consequences; if you go for technology advances the price of electricity would go up by 35% and the consumer would bear the brunt.

Another challenge was that developed and developing countries differed in approach as the former saw climate change as a priority, whilst the latter viewed poverty alleviation as a priority. Also because of their vulnerability, developing countries thought adaptation should take precedent over mitigation and with the developed world the opposite was true. Developed countries on the other hand argue for mitigation, where if one cut emission then potentially there would be a reversal of catastrophes. Hon. Sonjica said it was important that the argument be about integrating the two priorities. There was an expectation among developed countries that the developing nations should carry the bigger burden in mitigation. This was about competition among the nations. That was why the US would not commit until China contributed more or less the same as it did. On the other hand China said it was still a developing country and could not be matched with a developed country.

There was unease about signing the second commitment period. The Scandinavian countries were opposed to signing the second commitment period on grounds that the US was let off the hook on the Kyoto Protocol. Hon. Sonjica said the international trade competition was a challenge that needed to be raised in Durban. She suggested that Members raise the issue of separation of climate change issues from those of World Trade Organisation, as it polarised the debate and constituted the politics of climate change.

Hon. Sonjica said she felt SA was doing way much more than developed countries and that had to change. SA delegation had a mandate for the national interest; the country needed not to forsake its poverty alleviation programmes for climate change, rather strive for balance. A lot was happening with regards to climate change and the country had a host of legislations across sectors that regulated environmental management. Also Africa was looking up to SA to push for Africa’s developmental agenda.

Topical issues for the Durban conference included adaptation and voluntary payment system. Hon. Sonjica said the Bali Action Plan specified that developed countries needed to contribute to the Green Climate Fund. But getting varying amounts from nations was not sustainable if the world were to effectively deal with climate change; there had to be a reliable source of funding. She said she was worried by the proposal about a levy on goods produced using non-environmental friendly energy source. What would this levy do to SA’s economy which was export led? She asked if SA wanted to be a leader in combating climate change.

In concluding her presentation, Hon. Sonjica cautioned Parliament against discussing climate change on eve of conferences as it was an evolving subject matter. She wondered if SA was driving climate change internally or was just reacting to external pressure. There were a lot of things that went on in preparations for COP meetings and Parliament needed to keep abreast with these. She pleaded with the chair to continue to empower Members on climate change, as it was a societal issue. SA needed to ensure the participation of all stakeholders. Society, as well as the continent, needed to be on board in terms of participation at COP17. To what extent would the national interest be pushed at the negotiations, and what was the oversight role of Parliament in taking forward the climate change debate.

Discussion
The Chairperson welcomed the input by Hon. Sonjica and described it as thought provoking.

Mr McGluwa asked for Hon. Sonjica’s view with regards to how Africa’s challenges of underdevelopment and poverty could be conveyed at the Durban conference. He also asked for comparisons of the upcoming conference with COP16 (Cancun) especially that it degenerated into a discussion of economies as opposed to the environment.

Nkosi P Holomisa (ANC) said a new institution – Parliamentary Institute of SA – that would deal with climate change was about to be launched in October. He thanked Hon. Sonjica for a donation of about R8 million to his constituency while Hon. Sonjica was still minister. He asked for reasons why countries had to choose between poverty alleviation programme and climate change, and also why developed countries, that were responsible for bigger emissions, were less impacted by climate change. He also wanted to know why there was reluctance to a second commitment period by Annex one; and what were the shortcomings of the Kyoto Protocol.

Mr D Gumede (ANC) wanted to know if there had been incentives designed to encourage the developed countries to undertake mitigation seriously, and contribute positively to negotiations.

Ms N Zikalala (IFP) enquired about the possibilities of encouraging big companies in SA to change technology; especially since reference was made to technology as but one element to challenges of climate change.

Ms R Bengu (ANC) said sharing information was important to help the nation understand why climate change was an issue. She said a former colleague of Hon. Sonjica was planning a project that countered objectives of climate change negotiations. Why was it difficult for Government to explain why things were done, and information was not shared among Government officials across departments.

Ms N Zitha (IFP) wanted to know how the country would fight poverty if climate change posed a threat to water security. She wanted to know if mining activity had to continue, given that it used a large quantity of water, against the background of SA being a water scarce country. And also was it possible for the country to fight the battle alone. Why cannot SA look at new technologies to address of producing cleaner energy from coal.

Ms S Sithole (ANC) wanted to know if Hon. Sonjica was available to go around the country educating people on climate change.

Ms N Mathibela (ANC) asked if there were clear and easy programmes to educate people, especially the disadvantaged in rural areas.

Ms Manganye wanted to know if the Green Taxes as a proposed method of funding climate change enhanced social justice. What were the implications of overlapping between climate change and energy policy in SA. She asked if SA had thought about a long-term solution to the politics of climate change.

Ms Y Botha (ANC) asked if the country could ensure that mine’s and businesses included in their social plans progressive clean initiatives prior to being awarded licences and prospecting rights. She asked what could be done for provinces that had a challenge water to better receive water from rain.

Ms P Tshwete (ANC) proposed better coordination for parliamentary meetings on climate change as most MPs were held up at other engagements inside Parliament. She requested that climate change meetings were communicated to programming so as to avoid clutches. She asked if there were implications for the country in leading world climate change talks, as the presentation had sought to suggest.

Hon. Sonjica responds
Hon. Sonjica said she felt that SA punched above its weight on climate change. As a developing country SA needed to assess its participation and contributions, and not be ahead of countries like the US. She said SA needed space to grow despite the pressure put by international organisations. She said these organisations were not honest to the country about the impact championing climate change would have on development, the economy and social programmes. She said SA’s contribution had to be slow and not exaggerated. She said too much involvement would hamper the country’s capacity. Climate change fight needed to be a collective struggle and not South Africa’s. But the country should continue play a constructive role.

There had to be massive mobilisation of communities on climate change impact. She said there had to be education about sustainable ways of living especially among poor and uneducated people. The same message of using water efficiently ought to be preached more, as having taps next to homes did not mean there was sufficient water. She said communities should be encouraged to start harvesting natural resources and that be taken to the affluent areas as well. She said water usage in mines had to be monitored. Mining had to continue as it was the backbone of SA’s economy, but it had to be done responsibly. The laws were there, someone had to monitor if companies complied with what they promised as far as environmental targets were concerned. She said regional and parliamentary committees needed to ensure companies complied with legislation.

Social justice in climate change had been a point of debate. Some countries understood this as compensation by the developed world to developing nations that constituted some form of a penalty for creating climate change. There was a view that said these countries should pay towards a fund that could assist developing countries. She said incentivising developed countries was another complex issue and spoke to the heart of climate change politics. What amount of incentive would make the US move towards meeting the world halfway. She cited an example of the US that was incentivised, by being accommodated in Bali, and said further incentive other than that would be dangerous. She said the only incentive the US was interested in was for China to commit the same way it did.

Easy and clear programmes and information dissemination was something that the Department had to look at. The country needed a climate change summit that would bring all the stakeholders together. The programme could not be a departmental thing product it should be a South African product and a summit was better placed to address that. She said Parliament and Government needed to improve relations, so that information could be circulated. Ordinarily Parliament and Government should work together and over time the relationship would improve.

On Transnet programmes that did not assist climate change vision, Ms Sonjica said it was difficult to understand why an entity would seek to deviate from Departmental policies. She said policies of a Department should translate into operations on the ground.

Technology had advanced and was impacting on prices and inflation. She said SA had to be creative in looking for own technological advances to do things better. Surely the country would pay less if it produced its own refinery technologies. She was sceptical about the concept of afforestation, and said it could lead to developing countries cleaning the environment for further pollution by the developed nations. She said this closed scope for development in developing countries.

Hon. Sonjica said she was more than willing to visit constituencies and share experiences and knowledge on climate change.

The Chairperson’s input
The Chairperson said the parliamentary programme was guided by four pillars: oversight on negotiations and facilitating public participation; campaigns and articulating SA and Africa’s position on climate change; mobilisation, lobbying and networking with communities; and constituency work. He said parliamentary committees needed to integrate climate change into their business. Members should conduct oversight and facilitate public participation. Parliament was devising a climate change tool kit that Members could use when they undertook constituency work. He said emphasis should be on how climate change was demystified at the lowest level possible. There was a communication strategy with regards to climate change and Parliament had a dedicated website that was rich with information. He said there would be articles in Session (the parliamentary magazine).

Parliamentary work had to be integrated with provincial legislatures, municipalities and Government. At the moment there was fragmentation in approach. He said Parliament would work hard in ensuring that it was accorded an observer status at COP17. He said COP17 introduced a paradigm shift in addressing development and Parliament need to provide leadership and link COP17 work to the Millennium Development Goals. He urged parliamentarians not to allow the Durban conference to decide the end of the Kyoto Protocol.

Soon there would be a policy framework in the form of a white paper on climate change. He said it was only then that an appropriate legislation could be considered. He said Members were expected to drive the parliamentary programme jointly. Also a programme to green Parliament would soon be rolled out as well. He said portfolio committees especially Public Works had to conduct oversight and ensure that all Government buildings were greened. Parliament had to serve as a model.

The Chairperson said the international body for parliamentarians concerned with environmental issues would hold a forum in Parliament before COP17 starts. The Inter-Parliamentary Union would be doing the same. On 21 & 22 of October Parliament would host a national consultative forum for stakeholders, with the hope of building a national consensus on COP17.

The meeting was adjourned.

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