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
Members asked for clarity on the African Pavilion and Expo by
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
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
Mr Kekana said negotiations on the second commitment period were not finalised. The
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
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
Negotiations took a turn after COP16 (
Before COP16 in 2010 negotiations sought to build a transparent and comparable framework under the convention for the
Mr Kekana said another complication was parties who ratified but now want to ditch the Kyoto Protocol like
Mr Kekana said the G77+
Outstanding matters from Cancun would constitute the discussions in
The Departments of International Relations and Cooperation and Environmental Affairs had hosted a number of meetings to formulate
Mr Kekana said it would be important for SA to showcase its work on climate change at the
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
The second key priority was operationalising institutions that were agreed to in
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
Mr Kekana said there were three scenarios of what would happen in
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
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.
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
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
Mr Kekana said those opposed to the legally binding commitment like the
Hon. Sonjica said a legally binding agreement was not going to happen at COP17, because the
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
Presentation by the World Wildlife Fund-South
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
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
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
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
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+
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
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
There was unease about signing the second commitment period. The Scandinavian countries were opposed to signing the second commitment period on grounds that the
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
Topical issues for the
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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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