South African Government

Let's grow South Africa together

President JG Zuma to attend Climate Change talks in Copenhagen

6 Dec 2009

President Jacob Zuma has accepted the invitation from the Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Denmark, Mr Lars Lokke Rasmussen, to attend the Heads of State and Government Segment of the 15th Conference of the Parties (COP15) to the United Nations Framework Convention of Climate Change, (UNFCCC) and the fifth Conference of the Parties serving as the Meeting of the Parties (CMP-5) to the Kyoto Protocol, from 17 to 18 December 2009.

The President will be joined by the Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs, Ms Buyelwa Sonjica, the Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Ms Maite Nkoana-Mashabane and senior officials. COP15 brings together all signatories to the United Nations Climate Change Convention to negotiate a more equitable, ambitious and effective global pact to combat climate change beyond 2012, when the first commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol to the UNFCC comes to an end and a second commitment period must begin.

South Africa enters this phase of negotiations advocating for a successful outcome that will be inclusive, fair and effective; that has a balance between adaptation and mitigation; and a balance between development and climate imperatives. Success in Copenhagen should strengthen climate resilient development and must urgently assist the world’s poorest and most vulnerable to adapt to the inevitable impacts of a rapidly changing climate.

For South Africa, the major contributor to our emissions of Green House Gasses is our energy sector. However, the issue for developing countries like ours is not merely about addressing our Green House Gas emissions but also about energy security and energy access as well. The greatest challenge we face is how to ensure both energy security and access as a developmental imperative and at the same time laying the foundation for moving towards a path of low carbon growth. In the short to medium term we have an immediate energy supply challenge which alternative energy supply options cannot meet at affordable cost and at the scale needed, therefore, we are aggressively pursuing carbon efficient coal technology, in the medium term.

The science is very clear there is no "silver bullet" climate change is a huge global challenge which will take a combination of the full range of available interventions, technologies, policies and behaviour changes to resolve the climate problem. It will also demand massive investment in new low carbon technologies.

Economies across the world have to put long-term plans in place to transition towards a low carbon growth path. In this context, we have modelled South Africa’s mitigation potential and potential low carbon solutions in the Long Term Mitigation Scenario (LTMS) study. This work is being used to inform the policy choices that will allow us to aggressively address climate change in a way that unleashes the job creation and developmental opportunities of a 21st Century "Green Economy".

As such, South Africa, being a responsible global citizen and in line with its obligations under article 4.1 of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change acknowledges its responsibility to undertake national action that will contribute to the global effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. In accordance with this, South Africa will undertake mitigation actions which will result in a deviation below the current emissions baseline of around 34% by 2020 and by around 42% by 2025. This level of effort enables South Africa's emissions to peak between 2020 and 2025, plateau for approximately a decade and decline in absolute terms thereafter.

This undertaking is conditional on firstly, a fair, ambitious and effective agreement in the international climate change negotiations under the Climate Change convention and its’ Kyoto Protocol and secondly, the provision of support, from the international community, and in particular finance, technology and support for capacity building from developed countries, in line with their commitments under both the Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Bali Action Plan.

The potential for multilateral finance to unlock ambitious mitigation actions is already evident in recent events. For example, South Africa's successful application to the Clean Technology Investment Fund has successfully mobilised $500 million, leveraged to over $1,6 billion from other multi-lateral sources in order to support the establishment of a i) 100 megawatt (MW) utility scale wind power generation; ii) 100 MW Concentrated Solar Power Plant iii) conversion from electric water heating to solar water heaters for one million households, and; iv) scaling up of energy efficiency projects as leverage for commercial and industrial sectors. Clearly the scale of support enables a concomitant level of action.

In this regard, South Africa emphasises that an ambitious and long term financing package for both adaptation and mitigation is a central element of the Copenhagen negotiations and one that will have significant impact on the extent to which developing countries can take mitigation action.

Vincent Magwenya
Cell: 072 715 0024

Albie Modise
Cell: 083 490 2871

Issued by: The Presidency
6 December 2009