Minister Molewa’s speech during climate change talks, CoP 21 breakfast session

Centurion, Pretoria, Gauteng, Republic of South Africa, 02 November 2015

Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries: Hon. General Bheki Cele
Cllr Kgosientso Ramokgopa: Executive Mayor of the City of Tshwane
Ms Christiane Kalle: Country Director: GIZ South Africa
Representatives of the 3 spheres of Government
Representatives of Business and Civil Society
Distinguished Guests,

Ladies and gentlemen.

It is less than 4 weeks to go before the 21st Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Paris.

In Paris the international community will come up with a universal, legally binding agreement that will enable us to combat climate change effectively; and boost the transition towards resilient, low-carbon societies and economies.

CoP21 will be one of the largest climate conferences ever organized and I am grateful to be afforded this opportunity to meet with various stakeholders to strategize ahead of the CoP.

This meeting today is yet another milestone along our climate change adaptation and mitigation roadmap.

It is also a chance for us to roll up our collective sleeves to ensure a successful conclusion of the global mandate as agreed to at COP 17 in Durban four years ago.

That mandate is to develop a protocol, legal instrument or an agreed outcome with legal force, under the Convention, by no later than 2015, which will come into effect from 2020.

I want to especially thank Mayor Ramokgopa, Deputy Minister Cele, and all of you for taking time out of very busy schedules to be here this morning.

In addition, I would like to thank Ms Christiane Kalle, for the extensive support that we have received from the German Government through GIZ.

Climate change, ladies and gentlemen, is one of the greatest challenges of our time.

The Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has a number of simple messages.

Those messages say:

  • Greenhousegas emissions (GhG) rose more rapidly from 2000 to 2010 than in the previous three decades, growing by roughly 1.0 Gigatonne per year.

The more we disrupt our climate, the more we risk severe, pervasive and irreversible impacts.

That said - we do indeed have the means to limit climate change and build a more prosperous, sustainable future for our country and world, and all who live in it.

We know we shoulder an immense responsibility to deal with climate change and its impacts.

The United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) Emissions Gap Report tells us that global emissions in 2030 will most likely be 14 Gigatonnes above the level that would be consistent with a 2-degree world.

The UNEP Adaptation Gap Report concludes that by 2050, Africa’s adaptation costs could rise to USD 50 billion per year, if global warming were to remain below 2 degrees C; and up to USD 100 billion per year for a temperature increase of 4 degrees Celsius.

As you are all aware, all Parties to the UNFCCC were called on to intensify their national efforts to deal with climate change by submitting Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDC's) to the UNFCCC Secretariat by October 2015.

These INDC's are crucial to the success of the UN Climate deal both in 2015 and beyond.

South Africa submitted its own INDC to the UNFCCC Secretariat last month, ahead of the deadline on the 1st of October 2015.

Our INDC encompasses three distinct components namely mitigation, adaptation and the Means of Implementation.

Our INDC builds on the 2009 emissions reduction pledge that President Jacob Zuma announced on behalf of South Africa at the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, and further presents an emission reduction trajectory range for 2025 and 2030.

In submitting our INDC before the deadline South African government has demonstrated that we are responsible global citizens, and that the highest level of political will exists to contribute to the global climate change effort.

I want to thank our officials and teams who have worked tirelessly behind the scenes to ensure we met the deadline, as well as all our stakeholders, some of whom are present here today, who made timeous and critical inputs during the stakeholder consultation process.

The UNFCCC Secretariat analysis of the Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDC's) submitted so far - that is 146, representing 90% of the Parties - has concluded that the sum of all emission reduction pledges is likely to put the world on track to a 3-degree temperature increase.

In the African context, this implies a 4 – 6 degree temperature rise in many countries.

It is inevitable that this will have an impact on water and food security, infrastructure and overall development in these African countries.

The Civil Society Equity Review of INDCs concludes that the emission reduction ambition of all major developed countries falls short of their fair share in both domestic emission reduction and international finance.

The majority of developing countries have made mitigation pledges that exceed or broadly meet their fair share.

These numbers whether in Megatonnes of Co2 or US dollars or degrees Celsius, all tell a story. It is a story that reflects the urgency that is the context for the Paris negotiations.

Chairperson, we must also note that there is also a complex political context informing these global negotiations.

Although significant political will exists to reach an agreement in Paris, there are nevertheless four major areas of political divergence that need to be solved in the 14-day negotiating period.

I will touch on each of them briefly.

  • Firstly, on the principle of Common But Differentiated Responsibilities and Respective Capabilities – developed countries have made it clear that they would not be able to join a Paris Agreement that maintains the UNFCCC’s current divide between developed countries (Annex 1), developing countries (Non-Annex 1) and donor countries (Annex 2).
  • They assert that this reflects the situation in 1992 and that the world has since changed.
  • On the other hand, developing countries insist the Paris Agreement is not about re-writing the Convention by creating categories that previously did not exist.
  • Our position is that changing this distinction effectively and unfairly transfers climate responsibility to developing countries.
  • On Climate Finance, differentiation lies at the heart of this issue as well.
  • A key issue in this discussion is the demand from developing countries that a clear pathway be outlined for reaching the Cancun commitment from developed countries to mobilize $100 billion per year by 2020.
  • In addition, developed countries must clearly outline and quantify a post-2020 commitment to scale up the mobilization of finance beyond $100 billion.
  • This is part of the confidence building and mutual reassurance that developing countries require for them to take major steps forward in the Paris Agreement.
  • Developed countries on the other hand assert that it is difficult for them to quantify long-term financial commitments when their Parliamentary budget appropriation processes operate on an annual basis.
  • They also assert that the pool of climate finance contributors must be widened to include so-called “emerging economies” like China, and that recipients of climate aid must be reduced to only the vulnerable and low income countries.
  • Thirdly, on legal form – the US, many other developed countries and some developing countries have been clear that that they would not join a Paris Agreement that inscribes the INDC’s as legally binding requirements. This issue may resolve itself once a solution to Differentiation is found.
  • Finally, on the ambition gap – it is now clear that collectively the INDC’s will not reach the level of ambition that science indicates is required to keep the world below 2 degrees Celsius.
  • The Paris Agreement must therefore find a way to address this ambition gap. This is a survival issue for many African countries and Small Island Developing States. Currently, there is great divergence on how to do this.


South Africa’s national interests and priorities

Having considered the context, let us now look at what South Africa seeks to achieve in Paris.

As part of the Africa Group, South Africa will negotiate for a Paris agreement under the Convention that is ambitious, durable, fair, and effective.

The agreement must balance environmental and development imperatives, and ensure that global emission reduction efforts are adequate to keep global temperatures well below 2 degrees Celsius.

The deal must have adaptation at its core, and there must be an ambitious outcome on finance, technology and capacity building to support the adaptation and mitigation efforts of developing countries.

A key position of the Africa Group is that adaptation is a global responsibility. If one considers that climate change impacts are being driven by global inaction on mitigation, the adaptation burden on developing countries is growing heavier.

A Global Goal for Adaptation must therefore be part of the Paris Agreement.

South Africa has been instrumental in the negotiations leading to the establishment of the Warsaw International Mechanism for Loss and Damage associated with the adverse effects of climate change, particularly in developing countries.

We continue to do that because we understand and acknowledge that there are limits to adaptation, hence our support for Loss and Damage to be addressed in the Paris agreement.

Addressing this issue must be done in a manner that gives assurance that the Warsaw International Mechanism will continue and be strengthened beyond 2017.

Furthermore, enhancing pre-2020 ambition is a key part of the Durban mandate, and should thus receive equal priority.

Parties should urgently ratify the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol so that it can come into force. They must honor their existing obligations and enhance action to close the ambition gap.

Enhanced pre‐2020 ambition will lay a solid basis for post‐2020 ambition.


South Africa’s Intended Nationally Determined Contribution

I will now turn briefly to South Africa’s Intended Nationally Determined Contribution

South Africa has taken a big step-forward in communicating an ambitious INDC that will support our transition to a lower carbon and climate resilient economy and society.

Our INDC was developed following broad consultation with all stakeholders including business, civil society and all spheres of government.

As many of you who took part will know, we held a series of provincial stakeholder consultation workshops in partnership with all 9 provinces.

Our partners in the private sector are critical in this regard, because it is you who can play a tangible and meaningful role in the realization of our objectives to tackle climate change. The Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme (REIPPP) is acknowledged globally as best practice and it is a success we hope to replicate.

We also know, ladies and gentlemen, that local government is our champions with regards to implementation at a level that directly interfaces with communities. We as government further count on the support of civil society groupings.

It is also important to note that South Africa is already doing its part through or National Climate Change Response Strategy, of which increasing efficiency in public, commercial and residential buildings and transport forms part. For instance, our Reya Vaya in Johannesburg, the A Re Yeng in Tshwane and the Mi Citi in Cape Town, are playing a major role in reducing carbon emissions.

As with today's meeting, we as South Africa are sending a strong signal that we are contributing to the global effort.

Our INDC has been developed under the assumption that the Paris Agreement:

  • Will be an instrument that is legally binding, fair and effective;
  • Will adopt a “progressive” approach to creating an agreement that enhances, implementation and ambition over time; and
  • Will enable ambitious implementation with finance, technology and capacity building support from developed countries, which we assume will drive low-carbon technology costs downwards and thereby enhance access to these critical technologies.

On this understanding, South Africa has shifted its mitigation commitment from a relative “deviation from Business-as-usual” to a quantified commitment of a peak, plateau and decline trajectory range.

We have put forward INDC’s for 2 implementation periods with a 2025 and 2030 commitment.

It clearly outlines that South Africa will peak and plateau its Greenhouse Gas emissions by 2030.

It also outlines an aspirational emissions reduction trajectory up till 2050, as a firm long-term signal to not only the international community but importantly – to the market.

Our INDC also includes a commitment to adapt to the adverse effects of climate change through a set of National Adaptation Goals.

To this end we have indicated the financial and investment requirements for climate change mitigation and adaptation action.

The basis of our INDC is equity, responsibility, capability and sustainable development in relation to adaptation, mitigation and all forms of investment and support.

ladies and gentlemen,

As a developing country our message is clear: we take our responsibilities seriously and are already making a meaningful contribution, but within our respective capabilities. 

We are willing to do more, but developed countries must show the necessary leadership.

They too must take ambitious mitigation commitments, and most importantly, comply with their Convention obligations on Adaptation, Finance and Technology.

We are meeting here today with our continent's and our country's particular vulnerability to climate change, foremost in our minds.

We will continue to negotiate in good faith and do everything in our power to reach a deal that results in a strengthened and durable international climate change regime. A deal that ensures the full, effective and sustained implementation of the Convention, through an agreement that is applicable to all.

I look forward to working further with all of you: the non-governmental and civil society organizations, business, labour, local government, our Mayors, MECs and our Members of Parliament.

I would like to thank our representatives from the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Environmental Affairs (PCEA) for being with us here today.

We are ever mindful that all our efforts are being marshaled in the service of the people of South Africa - on whose behalf we carry our mandate to Paris.

Let us co-ordinate our efforts, speak with one voice and, so doing, ensure the successful conclusion of the Durban Mandate, in Paris.

I thank you.   

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