Minister Mokonyane welcomes balanced outcome of Katowice climate change talks

18 December 2018

The Minister of Environmental Affairs, Ms Nomvula Mokonyane, thanked the leader of the South African delegation to the international climate change talks in Katowice, Poland, Mr Derek Hanekom, Minister of Tourism, for his support and leadership during the crucial meeting.

The 24th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC CoP24) was hosted by Poland, the COP Presidency, from 2 to 14 December 2018 in the city of Katowice.

Minister Mokonyane was very recently appointed Minister of Environment, and was unable to attend the Conference in person, and thus Minister Hanekom led the South African delegation to COP24, considering that as Acting-Minister of Environmental Affairs in the recent past, he had been instrumental in the processes and preparations leading to COP24.

The delegation comprised the South African Ambassador to Poland, Mr Simon Ntombela, the Deputy Minister of Environmental Affairs, Ms Barbara Thomson, Members of Parliament, and a team of negotiators.

“I would like to thank Minister Hanekom and the team for their support and commitment during COP24. The long hours and hard work by the delegation contributed to the balanced outcome of the Katowice talks”, said the Minister. “Furthermore, I would also like to thank the National Business Institute for hosting the South Africa Pavilion at COP24”. She expressed the hope that this partnership between business and government would continue.

Ms Mokonyane has welcomed outcome of the conference. “The Katowice Outcome resulted in balanced implementation guidelines for the Paris Agreement. The conference agreed on implementation guidelines (a rule-book) focused on finance, transparency, nationally determined contribution, the global stocktake, compliance and defining the guidelines for the adaptation communication.” said Minister Mokonyane. However, negotiations on new market mechanisms under the Paris Agreement were not concluded, and will continue in 2019.

The two-week 24th Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC COP24), which started on 2 December 2018, ended a day later than scheduled. The High-Level Segment started on 10 December.

The theme of COP24 was Changing Together, emphasising the need for collaboration and cooperation to address climate change. The South African government joined 196 countries in ratifying the Paris Agreement in 2015.  The Agreement came into effect on 4 November 2016 – four years ahead of schedule giving recognition to world leaders’ concerns that climate change is one of the biggest challenges of the century.  

COP24 had as its central goal the adoption of the Paris Agreement Work Programme (PAWP), which sets out the implementation guidelines for the Paris Agreement on climate change, from 2020.

“We are comfortable that decisions adopted at COP24 provide developing countries with flexible arrangements that allow space for institutional and technical capacity building on communication and reporting obligations under the Paris Agreement,” said Minister Mokonyane.

“In this regard supporting the development of capacity is a key enabling aspect of the Paris Agreement.  We particularly welcome the decision to extend the mandate for capacity building support for reporting by developing countries by the Consultative Group of Experts until 2026. The CGE will play a vital role in enabling effective reporting by developing countries, thus enhancing transparency of climate action and support and ultimately enabling more climate action,” she added.

Parties to the UNFCCC adopted decisions related to the mobilisation and governance of scaled-up financial support for developing countries, particularly the support needed for the enhancement of mitigation ambition, to address the remaining gap in global climate action needed to limit climate change. These included setting up a process to determine the long-term goal on finance and ensuring that the Adaptation Fund will receive a share of proceeds from the new sustainable development mechanism under Article 6 of the Paris Agreement, while still continuing to receive a share of proceeds from the existing Kyoto Protocol, due to end in 2020.  Parties had also adopted decisions to provide guidance to the Green Climate Fund on a process of reaching agreement, in the event consensus cannot be reached when adopting its decisions.

In terms of the Katowice Outcome, implementation of the Paris Agreement starts in 2021, and reporting on climate change implementation by UNFCCC Parties, using the new rules agreed in Katowice, starts in 2024.

“While flexibility has been provided to developing countries with regard to reporting, building the necessary national systems will be challenging,” said Ms Mokonyane. The Minister said the outcome on transparency accommodates all Parties, and guarantees a successful transparency system. This agreement strongly supports building reporting capacity in developing countries, and support for reporting to developing countries.

“South Africa welcomes the further guidance on information to be provided with NDCs, and on accounting guidance to track progress of implementation and achievement of these contributions.  A strong quantitative basis has been established for accounting and tracking progress, with enough flexibility to accommodate all NDCs,” said the Minister.

With regard to markets, no formal agreement could be reached in Katowice.  “This means that discussion on this matter is ongoing.  South Africa would like to see strong rules being established.  We are, therefore, content that a decision has been taken to allocate more time to reach an agreement.  This, for South Africa, is preferable to a weak outcome,” Minister Mokonyane said.

South Africa is also concerned that the outcome of the discussions on adaptation communications are weaker that required, especially in terms of the future work programme required to develop detailed guidance on this, an essential part of the Paris Agreement. The Minister noted the immense importance of detailed adaptation reporting and communication guidelines to South Africa and other African countries.  A major outcome of Katowice was the inclusion of reporting on and consideration of loss and damage in the transparency framework, and in the global stocktake.

“Now the challenge remains to implement these decisions, and to ensure that the package effectively addresses the immense challenge of climate change as emphasised in the IPCC’s 1.5 degree report,” said the Minister.

South Africa, in collaboration with the National Business Initiative (NBI), hosted a South African exhibition pavilion at the climate change talks.  During the conference a number of dialogues and events were hosted at the Pavilion to showcase the work being done by South Africa to adapt to, and mitigate, climate change. The Department of Environmental Affairs had, amongst other events, launched the South Africa Biennial Update Report Explorer -- a new multi-media platform offering data and visualisation on South Africa’s climate progress. 

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