Minister of Tourism and Deputy Minister Barbara Thomson arrive in Katowice, Poland for the UNFCCC CoP24

10 December 2018


The Minister of Tourism, Mr Derek Hanekom, has arrived in Katowice, Poland, to participate the 24th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC CoP24).

Minister Hanekom is leading the South African delegation to COP24, which comprises the South African Ambassador to Poland, Mr Simon Ntombela, the Deputy Minister of Environmental Affairs, Ms Barbara Thomson, and a team of negotiators.

 The High Level Segment of the international climate change talks take place from 10 to 14 December 2018.  COP24 is being hosted under the presidency of Poland.  

The conference further comprises the 14th COP serving as the Meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (CMP14), the 3rd part of the first session of the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Paris Agreement (CMA1-3), together with 49th sessions of the UNFCCC Subsidiary Bodies.

Minister Hanekom will lead the high-level segment of the negotiations, and with Ms Thomson also participate in several high-level meetings, bilateral meetings, and events at the South African Pavilion. Parties to the UNFCCC are expected to adopt the Paris Agreement Work Programme (PAWP), which sets out the operational rues of the Paris Agreement at the Katowice Climate Conference. The PAWP will set out the implementation guidelines required to operationalise the Paris Agreement in 2020.

A number of ministerial engagements have been scheduled, including the Talanoa Dialogue to garner political will for more ambitious climate action, dialogues on financial support for developing countries, and implementation of the pre-2020 Agenda under the Convention and its Kyoto Protocol amongst others a series of bilateral discussions with, amongst others, the African Union, as well as Side Events at the South African Pavilion.

The theme of COP24 is Changing Together emphasising the need for collaboration and cooperation to address climate change.

“COP24 is a critical milestone towards maintenance of a multilateral rules-based approach to addressing climate change, at a time when multilateralism is being questioned by some of the biggest countries, and further undermined by backtracking on commitments provide finance and reduce emissions by several other developed countries,”  said Minister Hanekom.

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.  

At COP23 in Bonn, Germany, in November 2017, Parties adopted the Talanoa Dialogue – the backbone of the facilitative dialogue that will take place in Poland. 

South Africa has identified a number of priorities for COP24 where it is important to ensure the technical needs and requirements of nations to mitigate and adapt to climate change are comprehensively negotiated.  Further emphasising the importance of sufficient details in the rules, such that all provisions of the Paris Agreement, can be comprehensively and effectively implemented post 2020.

At COP24 the emphasis remains on limiting global temperature increases to well below 2 degrees Celsius in pursuit of efforts to limit global temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius (as called for in the Agreement). 

Advancing the pre-202 agenda including ratification of the Doha Agreements, and mobilisation of climate finding for developing and least developed countries will also be discussed. It is therefore urgent that ambition gaps be closed, and that the Katowice climate change conference place a particular priority on a finalised Paris Agreement Work Programme. 

South Africa hopes that the Katowice Conference will take stock of the work required to fully implement the Paris Agreement, provide assurances that the political balance of the Paris Agreement is upheld, and that all issues of importance to developing countries (including adaptation and finance) will be addressed in the rule-book to be adopted.  

“We believe that the focus at CoP24 should be on ensuring that commitments by developed countries in the pre-2020 period, including the provision of US$100 billion per annum in climate finance to developing countries by 2020, are honoured,” said Mr Hanekom. 

The talks should also clarify the relationship between the formal UNFCCC process on the pre-2020workstream and the “Action Agenda”, which is a parallel process for voluntary coalitions and partnerships involving state and non-state actors. This process is increasingly being used by developed countries as a substitute for their legal commitments under the UNFCCC and its Kyoto Protocol.

Ms Thomson said South Africa would like to see the advancement of the efforts of developing countries to ensure that the Adaptation Fund serves the Paris Agreement. The outcomes of the 2018 Talanoa Dialogue should translate to enhanced action.  

“For South Africa the Talanoa process should be the backbone for collaboration amongst the Parties, and should drive the effort to secure increased support for developing countries. Through the Dialogue we can achieve increased support to developing countries, and facilitate transparency,”  said the Minister. 

South Africa, in collaboration with the National Business Initiative (NBI), is hosting a South African exhibition pavilion at the climate change talks.  During the conference a number of dialogues and events are to be hosted at the Pavillion to showcase the work being done by South Africa to adapt to, and mitigate, climate change.   

For media inquiries contact:

Albi Modise
Cell: 083 490 2871

For media interviews with members of the South African delegation in Katowice, Poland, contact: Eleanor Momberg on +27 83 400 5741