Assessment of COP17: by Department of Environmental Affairs; DEA Strategic Plan continued

Water and Sanitation

06 March 2012
Chairperson: Mr J. De Lange (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

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 Durban to defer everything to 2020. SA managed to secure the possibility of a multilateral based approach, secured the Green Climate Fund, with the possibility of the kind of scale of support needed in terms of a Climate Technology Centre and Network, and many other operational decisions. Mr Wills there were two ways of looking at measuring the success of COP17. Firstly, it was a positive outlook. Durban presented a historical opportunity to build a new multilateral system to ensure participation of a lot of parties, integrating both the top-down and bottom-up approach. The alternative way was a risk based outlook which said that if progress could not be made on ambition, then in the short term there would be risks of the same old division which would undermine the new negotiations as well as implementation of what needed to be done. Gains were made by securing a second commitment which could be meaningless if the future would look different. The challenge in going forward was how to seize the opportunity and manage the risk.

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.

 

Meeting report

Assessment of COP17
Ms Judy Beaumont, DDG: Climate Change for Department and Mr Alf Wills, South Africa’s Chief Negotiator shared their findings with the Committee on their assessment of the COP17 process particularly on the negotiation outcome, awareness raised and the climate change expo. The coordination of the work involved most of the Department as well as a series of task teams. Four work streams were created whose members facilitated outreach programmes and expo, green and legacy projects and working on the Climate Change White Paper.

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 Copenhagen were two competing paradigms on what the Climate Change regime should look like. On the one hand, developing countries with some developed countries mainly the Eurozone countries took the view that the model needed to be top down like the Kyoto mechanism embracing a multilateral approach to solving the climate regime, and that it should be legal and common rules to be informed by what science said. An alternative model was that promoted by the United States and some other countries which was a bottom up regime where the levels of ambition would be informed by national circumstances and rules and targets would be domestically developed. From Cancun, there had been progress made but there were still some unfinished business from the Bali roadmap on how to secure rules. Linked to that, what would be the legal form to ensure comparability of effort and compliance between the US who did not sign the Kyoto Protocol and other countries party to it? Linked to that issue, was the call by developing counties in Africa, the Small Island States and the Least Developed Countries for increased ambition. Their position was, sea levels were rising faster and that it was threatening the existence of some whole countries who could be submerged. The current level of ambition was not enough. Unfinished issues related to how symmetrical the agreement would look like between developed and developing countries.

Three Possible Scenarios
South Africa’s position at the high level included a desire to secure a binding multilateral agreement, inclusive and environmentally effective, in such a way that would uphold a multilateral approach as opposed to unilateral. In that context, the international regime was one that would effectively strike a balance between priorities for Africa and long term responses, and in that way, balance development and the climate imperative. In essence South Africa identified three possible scenarios – ambitions, middle of the road or in transition and the undesirable scenario. To track architecture agreed to in Bali, one possible outcome in Durban would be that informed by science, and a legal instrument emerging under the convention to bind the United States and other developed countries who indicated they would not participate. The middle or the road or transitional outcome was the more likely outcome for Durban, where SA would achieve a provisional outcome to secure the multilateral rule that could lay out a roadmap towards a future under the convention. One possible outcome on the cards for Durban was a no agreement on Kyoto which would have then favoured the bottom up approach.

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 Durban to defer everything to 2020. SA managed to secure the possibility of a multilateral based approach, secured the Green Climate Fund, with the possibility of the kind of scale of support needed in terms of a Climate Technology Centre and Network, and many other operational decisions.

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 Durban. Lack of progress on increasing ambition promoted the risk that the second commitment might collapse resulting in an empty green fund and empty technology. There needed to be a commitment in 2012 to bear down on gains made.

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 Europe had gotten worse. There were also the same old divisions. All the countries who were in Durban including the US, Japan and Russia, and Canada agreed that there should be a second commitment even though they did not want to be part of it. They said Europe and others could go ahead but they did not want to be part of it.

Mr De Lange asked if there were outstanding issues from Cancun that went into the new agreement.

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 Durban. But the fact was, it was still linked to questions around ambition and how to increase ambition in the short term, made it a risk.

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 Kyoto compliance system and work still needed to be done in this area. The focus was on how to monitor action that was done by countries but not so much support by developing countries. Another set of political issues involved sectoral approaches and involved issues under the mandate of other multilateral bodies such as aviation, shipping, agriculture, intellectual property as there had been no resolution yet on how to deal with issues under the jurisdictions of other bodies.

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. Durban presented a historical opportunity to build a new multilateral system to ensure participation of a lot of parties, integrating both the top down and bottom up approach. The alternative way was a risk-based outlook which said that if progress could not be made on ambition, then in the short term there would be risks of the same old division which would undermine the new negotiations as well as implementation of what needed to be done. Gains were made by securing a second commitment which would be meaningless if the future would look different. The challenge in going forward was how to seize the opportunity and manage the risk.

Discussion
Mr J Skosana (ANC) wanted to hear more about legislation, if other countries were doing the same as South Africa in developing legislation for Climate Change.

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 Durban was to get the common legal framework as that was the way of the multilateral system and the only legal guidance the developing countries had was the provision of the convention. The problem was the US , Canada, Japan and Russia wanted to be developing countries. The purpose of the new negotiations under the Durban platform were to develop a legal and new framework which would be applicable to all but based on provisions of the convention of common and differentiated equity.

Mr Morgan asked to what extent was the actual writing into the Durban platform, was the commitment to negotiate a new agreement. He asked the Department if it was a surprise as he did not remember it being part of the plan. He also asked if the binding agreement being negotiated would codify the peak, plateau decline scenario of SA. He also said that something needed to be done differently by the Committee as a new treaty was being processed which would come before Parliament in the next four to six years.

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 Durban, that if they could get a road towards a legal outcome then that would be enough, but they got a road map which was a new protocol, treaty, legal instrument or agreed outcome with legal force. Now there were three specific options and what was more, was that it was specifically said it would be applicable to all parties which would be difficult to achieve. Hence it was ambitious as well as much more than expected. SA was the only developing country that had referenced the PPD into its commitment and what the negotiations did was advance that requirement. SA was really between a rock and a hard place as it was the largest emitter in Africa but it was also vulnerable The potential impact on the neighbors and the rest of the country threatened SA’s economic prospects going forward. This was not just about SA but about the future of the continent as a whole. The national interest was to get a legally binding informed by science global agreement.

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 Japan, Russia and Canada for refusing to be part of the second agreement. He also remembered that in Durban, the US had a problem with China and he wanted to know how it was dealt with.

Mr Wills responded that the relevant Departments would form a multi sectoral approach in responding to the various countries. Canada had to be separated as they had announced formally withdrawing from the Kyoto Protocol as they could not meet their obligations and therefore avoided the sanctions. The big problem the world face was that the US was scared of China and was concerned about the economic power shift from the US as largest economy to China.

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 Japan, Russia and Canada refused to join a second commitment as they argued that the current system where there were legal obligations on developed but not developing countries was not fair and they were not interested to participate. The biggest polluter was China at the moment, followed by the US followed by India. SA was about the 14th largest emitter in the world depending on how it was measured.

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 Durban achieved an increased reach and advanced the message of climate change and the Department needed to continue building on it.

Discussion
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 p
romote, 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 South Africa’s over riding national priorities for sustainable development, job creation, improved public and environmental health, poverty eradication and social equality. The Branch had four Chief Directorates of Climate Change Adaptation, Climate Change Mitigation, Monitoring and Evaluation and Air Quality Management.


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:
▪ negotiations,
▪ 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 Africa and the bilaterals.

Discussion
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.

Discussion
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 Pretoria in an area towards Soutspansberg. It would probably take about 18-24 months to build.

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.

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