South Africa: Minister Edna Molewa – National Stakeholder Consultation Session in Preparation for Cop 22/Cmp12

Minister Edna Molewa’s speech delivered by Deputy Director-General of Climate Change and Air Quality, Ms Judy Beaumont, at the National Stakeholder Consultation Session in preparation for COP 22/CMP12, National Monument, Pretoria

British High Commissioner;

Representatives of the Diplomatic Corp,

Representatives of Industry, Business, Non-Governmental Organisations, the Youth, Women’s Organisations, and

Representatives of national and provincial government departments,

Distinguished ladies and gentlemen.

It is my pleasure to be with you today as we finalise our negotiating position and key messages that will guide South Africa’s delegation in the negotiations at the twenty second session of the Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, Marrakesh, Morocco.

I am particular pleased to see a number of women and youth represented in this meeting from different organisations Allow me to share some thoughts on this subject, that is notably the biggest challenge facing humanity in the 21st century, and particularly since Africa, once again, will open its arms to the world in November to seek practical solutions to the scourge of climate change.


You are all aware that 2015 was a special year on the international calendar. The world agreed to both the Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Agreement on Climate Change. This was largely due to increasing realisation globally of the seriousness of the challenge posed by climate change, spurred by overwhelming and very detailed scientific evidence on its causes and impacts contained in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s 5th Assessment Report. The simple truth is that climate change is already here today, and we are bearing the brunt of it. It is particularly devastating for us in the developing world, and specifically in Africa, and particularly for the vulnerable sectors of our population.

South African context

South Africa’s historically low-cost energy supply, together with the predominance of extractive industries, has combined to create our highly energy-intensive economy, with coal as the main fuel source, the most carbon-intensive fossil fuel. Coal dominates the South African energy system, accounting for 74% of primary energy supply and 23% of final energy consumption. In 2010, South Africa generated 94% of its electricity using coal (IEA, 2012).

At present South Africa and Nigeria are the largest contributors to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in Africa. For South Africa, its GHG emissions per capita are higher than in most other major emerging economies, including Brazil, China, and India. This has triggered a number of policy initiatives across government, driven by various departments, including the National Treasury, the National Planning Commission, the Department of Energy through its Integrated Energy Plan (IEP) and Integrated Resources Plan (for electricity), and the Department of Environmental Affairs and highly successful renewable energy programme, various Cities’ programmes and others.

The National Climate Change Response White Paper provides the framework for climate change policy in South Africa. The policy recognises that South Africa is a significant contributor to global climate change, mainly due to GHG emissions arising from its energy intensive, fossil-fuel powered economy. On the other hand, South Africa is extremely vulnerable to the impacts of climate change due to our socio-economic and environmental context. Fortunately, as well as the abundance of coal, South Africa is also blessed with some of the best renewable energy resources in the world.

Contributions to global solutions

South Africa as a responsible country has continued to contribute immensely to finding a global solution to the climate change problem. In 2009, we made a pledge at the 15th Conference of the Parties (COP 15) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to limit our emissions in 2020 and 2025.

In 2011, under South Africa’s COP Presidency, world leaders agreed on the Durban Platform, that launched the 4-year negotiating process of a multilateral legal framework on climate change, concluding at COP 21. In 2015 we led the Group of 77 plus China at COP 21 in Paris in a successful negotiation process that resulted in the Paris Agreement. With other countries, we also committed ourselves to work towards building climate resilience in our society, as well as reducing greenhouse gas emissions through our Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC).

The INDC demonstrated progression from “the deviation from business as usual” form of commitment made in Copenhagen to the peak, plateau and decline greenhouse gas emissions trajectory range outlined in our National Climate Change Response Policy. We have committed to keeping South Africa’s emissions in a range between 398 and 614 Mt CO2 equivalent in 2025 and 2030, as defined by our national policy. We are doing all this despite the many challenges that our country is facing, of poverty, inequality and unemployment.

We are committed to contributing our fair share to the global effort of reducing global warming, and to transitioning to a lower carbon and climate resilient economy and society. This may seem like a daunting challenge. However, as one wise man once said “it always seems impossible until it is done”. We strongly believe that working together as business, government, non-governmental organisations and labour, we will rise to this challenge of bringing about a just transition to a low-carbon economy.

Progress report in 2016

We all thought 2015 was a critical year for the fight against climate change, and yet 2016 is proving to be an even more exciting year. Countries adopted a hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) amendment under the Montreal Protocol in a meeting in Kigali in October. In addition, a global market-based measure – the Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA) – was adopted at the 39th session of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) in Montreal in early October. In addition, sufficient countries ratified the Paris Agreement under the UNFCCC so that it will enter into force in November, far sooner than anyone expected. These global achievements are significant demonstrations of global commitment to taking climate action.

Early entry into force of the Paris Agreement

Under the UNFCCC we have witnessed a renewal of the Paris spirit of collaboration with the launch of the NDC Partnership, and many others. We are now certain that the Paris Agreement will enter into force sooner than expected, as more than 85 Parties have ratified the agreement, representing more than 60% of global GHG emissions. The Paris Agreement will enter into force on the 4th November this year. Therefore, the first session of the Conference of the Parties serving as the Meeting of the Parties to the Paris Agreement (CMA1) will take place during COP22.

There is recognition within the UNFCCC that domestic processes for ratifying international treaties differ from country to country, resulting in some countries being able to ratify the agreement more speedily than others. South Africa is also working at great speed to ratify the Paris Agreement as soon as possible, given the process set down in section 231 (2) of our Constitution. The process is far advanced, and we expect Parliament to consent to ratification in early November.

I will now address some key points in the South African negotiating position. I encourage you to engage on these issues in preparation for COP 22 in Marrakesh. It is very important that the South African team goes to Marrakesh with a thoroughly discussed and carefully considered position.

It is generally agreed that COP 22 will be an implementation COP, and this is particularly important, since after the landmark achievements of Paris, we now have to start the detailed work of elaborating the broad framework of the Paris Agreement, and working out how to operationalise its key provisions. This work will continue until 2020. In our view, the COP should accomplish the following:

It should provide an assurance that all the work that needs to be done to finalise the rules for the implementation of the Paris Agreement will be concluded in time for the necessary rules to be adopted by 2020.

Clarity is required on how the COP will take stock of, and ensure progress on, issues which are critical for the implementation of the Paris Agreement, but are not necessarily mapped out in the work programmes of the Ad-hos Working Group of the Paris Agreement (APA) and the subsidiary bodies (SBSTA and SBI). Many of these issues are especially important to developing countries.

The COP in Marrakesh should accelerate the work of the Paris Committee on Capacity Building by adopting its terms of reference. Capacity Building is a critical issue in Africa, and as a result, African countries are insisting on building domestic institutional capacity, rather than holding workshops and meetings.

The COP should also clarify the relationship between the Paris Committee on Capacity Building and the Capacity Building Initiative for Transparency (CBIT). The latter is aimed at building capacity in developing countries specifically for reporting requirements under the transparency arrangements of the Paris Agreement. The clarity is important so as not to duplicate work, but also since the initiative on CBIT has already secured funding under the Global Environment Facility and other UN bodies.

Developed country Parties also need to provide a clear pathway to realise the $100 billion per annum of climate finance by 2025 (scaled up thereafter) and on the provision of technology and capacity building support to developing countries.

The COP should also explore how to increase financing for adaptation. Africa has called for a 50:50 allocation of funds between mitigation and adaptation activities.

We will also have to start addressing key questions on the pillars of the Paris Agreement – on the features of Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), on the global stocktake, which is scheduled to happen every five years to assess progress on all the key elements of the agreement, on common timeframes for NDCs, and on reporting and accounting rules.

A priority for us is to ensure that adaptation, of critical importance to us and to Africa, is given the central importance that it needs in the post-2020 regime, and that equity considerations are not side-lined. The work of implementing the Paris Agreement is only beginning in Marrakesh – South Africa has always punched above its weight in the multi-lateral climate negotiations, and we aim to continue this leadership role as the process unfolds.

I thank you!

Source: Department of Environmental Affairs.

[related_post themes="flat" id="136529"]