Mr Alf Wills, SA Chief Negotiator, described what South Africa achieved in Durban as firstly, acknowledging the urgency of addressing climate change and having made a whole set of decisions about what should be done between the present and 2020 to send a signal that the multilateral system was happening on the ground. Furthermore, SA negotiated a future multilateral system to have been completed by 2015 and would come into effect by 2020. The other leg of the deal was recognition that the level of ambition for emission reduction was insufficient to meet global commitment. And another was deliberating over how to increase the level of ambition to levels required by science. SA did not want to send a signal in
The Committee Chairperson warned that everyone must be careful not to see the process as carrying on “from the previous way things were” but to see that there had actually been a huge paradigm shift and that the whole issue was about what would happen after 2012. SA had come out with the position that the developing world held, that they could not let the Kyoto Protocol die, but also recognized that the Kyoto Protocol was a dead end as it was only binding few countries. On the other hand, it could not be allowed to die as it had all the tools needed in a legally binding agreement. The future would be with a legally binding agreement based on science - this was the shift that was taking place. SA was very well placed, as it had agreed to a trajectory and the only thing that might change was that the numbers could be less or more. Though the trajectory was far too ambitious, it was fully supported as it created targets. In looking at the politics of climate change, the issue was if they would be part of the 2015 agreement. What was important for SA were the preparations for the 2015 deadline and not the next COP meeting.
The DEA continued with its presentation on its Strategic Plan looking at Corporate Management Services.
Assessment of COP17
Ms Judy Beaumont, DDG: Climate Change for Department and Mr Alf Wills,
Context of Negotiations
Mr Wills explained that it was an extremely complex set of interlinked and conflicting issues and negotiations looked at trying to balance not only environment and development, social and economic and political issues as well as in the context of an ever changing world order. The meeting took place against the backdrop of the financial crisis, especially the eurozone crisis. It was also at a time of fragile trust between developed and developing countries. What emerged after
Three Possible Scenarios
What South Africa Achieved
Mr Wills described what South Africa achieved in Durban included firstly, acknowledging the urgency of addressing climate change and having made a whole set of decisions about what should be done between the present and 2020 to send a signal that the multilateral system was happening on the ground. Furthermore, SA negotiated a future multilateral system to have been completed by 2015 and would come into effect by 2020. The other leg of the deal was a recognition that the level of ambition was insufficient to meet global commitment. Yet another leg of the deal was deliberating over how to increase the level of ambition to levels required by science. SA did not want to send a signal in
Challenges & Risks
Mr Wills continued that the challenges in going forward were in the two main risks in terms of how to bear down the gains made in
The second risk involved the consideration that all socio economic drivers had not changed from December 2011 to March 2012. If anything the economic circumstances of
Mr De Lange asked if there were outstanding issues from
Mr Wills replied that although decisions were made to go a particular route, political and economic work still needed to happen to bear down on the commitments otherwise it would just reverted back to the same old divisions.
SA’s Position going into Durban
Mr Wills said that it was important to scan the detail of the SA position going into Durban and ask, out of the particular positions SA had, how many were lost or gained, how many were ambitious and how many were middle of the road. In terms of SA’s position on the Kyoto Protocol and the second commitment, SA had agreed to a second commitment even though it was not known yet how long for, how to deal with carry over rules, how to convert pledges into an emissions trajectory for 2012 to whatever period. Unless such issues were sorted out, the commitment would remain empty before the commitment and the amendments to the Kyoto Protocol would be adopted.
On issues of legal options going forward, this was in essence an ambitious and a transition one at the same time. Where SA had agreed that there would be a legal agreement by 2015 which would provide time for it to be ratified by Parliament, it was much more than was thought possible to achieve in
Mr De Lange asked if there would still be meetings where they would start to negotiate the 2015 deadline. Mr Wills replied that an Ad Hoc Working Group for the Durban Outcome (ADP) had been set up as the new negotiating group and their first meeting was in May 2012 and there was also talk of setting up a meeting in September between May and the COP meeting in December.
Mr De Lange said that the real issue was to agree to rules and commitments and Mr Wills agreed.
The question was how the new commitment may compare to the
Measuring the Success of COP17
Mr Wills said there were two ways of looking at measuring the success of COP17. Firstly, it was a positive outlook.
Mr J Skosana (ANC) wanted to hear more about legislation, if other countries were doing the same as
Mr Wills said that all developed countries had domestic legislation and some developing countries had them as well. All large emitters were in the process of developing legislation. The purpose of
Mr Morgan asked to what extent was the actual writing into the
Mr Wills said that SA always knew that if it was going to secure a second commitment period which had legally binding commitments, then it would need to get resolutions of the legal outcomes under the convention. What was a surprise was the degree of specificity. He said that if the Committee could recall, what the Department had said going into
Mr Huang asked which Departments played their part in negotiations at COP17, how SA could contribute more towards resolving the issue and who authorized a Department to negotiate on behalf of SA.
Mr Wills explained that Parliament determined who would negotiate on behalf of the country. When the SA Parliament ratified the Convention and the Kyoto Protocol, they charged DEA with implementation. The model or instruction from Parliament was that both DIRCO and DEA would lead as Departments.
Mr Mathebe asked what the implications might be for
Mr Wills responded that the relevant Departments would form a multi sectoral approach in responding to the various countries.
Ms C Zikalala (IFP) asked what made the developed countries refuse to sign the Kyoto Protocol and also asked who the biggest polluters were amongst them.
Mr Wills clarified that
Mr De Lange said that the summary for the assessment of COP17 had been done conservatively and reasonably, and it was how it should be. But he warned the Committee and the Department that they must be careful not to see the process as carrying on from the previous way things were but to see that there had actually been a huge paradigm shift and the whole issue was what happened after 2012. SA had come out with the position that the developing world held, that they could not let the Kyoto Protocol die, but also recognized that the Kyoto Protocol was a dead end as it was only binding a few countries. On the other hand, it could not be allowed to die as it had all the tools needed in a legally binding agreement. The future would be with a legally binding agreement based on science – this was the shift that was taking place. SA was very well placed, as it had agreed to a trajectory and the only thing that might change was that the numbers could be less or more. Though the trajectory was far too ambitious, it was fully supported as it created targets. In looking at the politics of climate change the issue was if they would be part of the 2015 agreement. What was important were the preparations for the 2015 deadline and not the next COP meeting.
Climate Change Response (CCR) Expo
Ms Beaumont presented a short review of the CCR Expo which was an important opportunity for SA as a large gathering of business and civil society was there to demonstrate what SA was doing. The Expo attracted about 190,000 people. Best practices in green methodologies were exhibited as well as the greening programme.
Mr De Lange asked about the Climate Change train which had delivered the awareness message around the country prior to the COP17 meeting.
Ms Beaumont said that it had gone back to being a normal train.
Mr De Lange advised the Department to find funds to continue using the train as an instrument to raise awareness on the Climate Change issues.
Ms Beaumont concluded that in summary
Mr Skosana said that the Department needed to keep the awareness about climate change going to make sure it reached everyone in the country including the schools and rural areas. The Greening Programme was not very visible on the ground. People needed to plant trees.
Ms Zikalala wanted to hear more about a programme she was involved in called Greening of the Nation.
Mathebe – asks about a campaign called =
Mr De Lange asked the Department if did not think about holding an Expo every year.. He asked the DG and the Department to come up with a programme to take the issues from COP17 forward.
Ms McCourt said that the Department had in fact planned to have the Expo and the train events annually during the month of June which was the environmental month. The Department had the eco towns programme, as well as others related to green elements run by other departments such as the Social Responsibility, Policy and Projects (SRPP) programme. The Department needed to consolidate all greening initiatives and give it one brand.
Climate Change and Air Quality Unit presentation
Ms Beaumont spoke about this new unit whose purpose was to promote, coordinate and manage an effective national mitigation and adaptation response to climate change. Its functions were to
▪ facilitate international climate obligations,
▪ respond to climate change impacts through building adaptative capacity, socio-economic resilience and emergency response capacity,
▪ facilitate and manage the transition to a climate resilient, equitable and internationally competitive lower carbon economy and society.
This had to be in a manner that simultaneously addressed
Environmental Advisory Unit (New Unit)
Mr Wills delivered the presentation on the Department’s newest unit, that embodied the new approach of “Environment” as enabler for “a better life for all”. The new approach also placed the economy within the context of the environment and the socio-political systems. The unit would have four components:
▪ international governance & coordination,
▪ strategic environmental intelligence,
▪ sustainable development and the green economy.
Mr Fakir, spoke about the component: international governance and coordination. The international governance unit would be a performance orientated and driven unit, pro-actively engaging in the international arena, passionately lobbying for financial and technical resources, promoting the African agenda and positioning South Africa within the global governance system so as to derive people-centred benefits in a manner befitting the highest of integrity. The component of the Environmental Advisory Unit had two directorates, international governance and
Mr Huang asked how quick the response of the advisory unit would be and how much funds would they utilize.
The DG replied that all DDGs reported to the DG so it helped to facilitate a fast response. The Unit had been allocated a budget of R60m. SANBI had not yet received funding from the Global Environment Facility (GEF). Mr Wills added that the budget was actually R61m, the vast majority being from the governance unit which had SA’s contribution to the GEF. He said that response had been slow since 1972 the first meeting on sustainable development. Since 2007, sustainable development had become an international priority and implementation had accelerated ever since.
Corporate Management Services
Mr Kamal Pillay Acting DDG Corporate Affairs delivered a brief presentation on this branch of the Department as a conrinuation of the Department’s Strategic Plan. The strategic objective for the branch was to secure a harmonious and conducive working environment for the Department. The disability target was set at 2% but this target remained at risk of not achieving so the DEA had a programme on the table about engaging more people with disabilities. The other performance area it did not achieve on was the new building though the Department did achieve the start of the new building.
In reply to Mr De Lange asking what ‘natural turnover’ represented, Ms McCourt said that the Department usually provided a breakdown when they presented the Annual Report and it was usually 10% in the past.
Mr De Lange asked if Public Works was involved with building the new building and Mr Pillay said it was not but Treasury was.
Mr De Lange also asked if Geographic information system (GIS) technology was part of the information technology component plan in discussion.
Mr G Morgan (ANC) wanted more detail about the new building asking when it might be ready, what the Department hoped to achieve with it and its relation to the Public Private Partnership (PPP) agreement.
Ms Nosipho Ngcaba, DEA Director General, said that PPP guidelines had been developed by Treasury and the principle was that the Department would share the risks with the private party. She explained that a feasibility study had been done five years before she became the Director General of the Department and the outcome of the feasibility study provided the type of building suitable for the Department. Public Works and Treasury worked alongside the DEA and had explored the procurement process that would be utilized. The site was in
Mr De Lange remarked that when he was in the executive, there were a large number of leases to create a government precinct in the city centre for the various Departments to try to be there, but he saw that the DEA’s new site was outside that.
Mr P Mathebe (ANC) asked if the Department’s asset register was in order and if the Department was able to determine if the assets were properly utilized by staff and those inside of the Department and not by outsiders as he had heard.
The DEA Asset Management Officer said that the Department Asset Register was effective and the resources were utilized properly and by the people inside the Department. In terms of movable assets such as furniture and computers, they were used by staff members until they became too worn out or obsolete. The Department would then follow the procedure of disposing of them. If they could not dispose of them then they would send the electronic waste to e-waste, a company who disposed of such waste correctly. The company was recommended to the Department. The DG added that the Department did not own any immovable property.
In reply to Mr De Lange asking if the Department had any security risk assessment, Mr Pillay explained that the assessment was done by the South African Police Service (SAPS) looking at physical security of the Department and this was done on an annual basis. The results they received was that the Department was over 80% compliant. The assessment came up with full recommendations and the Department had already implemented them.
Mr De Lange thanked the Department for their presentations and the Members for attending. The meeting would continue the coming week with the remaining presentations.
The meeting was adjourned.
- Programme 3: Oceans and Coasts presentation
- Legal, Authorizations & Compliance Inspectorate
- Environmental Programmes Branch presentation
- Corporate Affairs: Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) presentation
- Climate Change & Air Quality Unit: Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) presentation
- Chemicals & Waste Management presentation
- Biodiversity & Conservation presentation
- Environmental Advisory Services Unit presentation
- We don't have attendance info for this committee meeting
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