Marrakech Climate Change conference about operationalising the Paris Agreement

18 November 2016


The 22nd Conference of the Parties (COP22) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) currently underway in Marrakech, Morocco marks ‘a turning point for international climate action.’

This is according to Minister of Environmental Affairs Dr. Edna Molewa, who is leading the South African delegation to COP22.

The Paris Agreement was adopted in December last year at the 21st Conference of the Parties (COP21) to the UNFCCC in Paris. The climate change conference in Marrakesh is the first meeting of the Parties to the Paris Agreement since its entry into force on the 4th November 2016.

South Africa’s Parliament ratified the Paris Agreement ahead of COP22, making us the 90th of 110th nations to have done so thus far.

Speaking from Marrakesh, Minister Molewa said that the Paris Agreement represented a major step towards an inclusive low-carbon and climate resilient future, guiding the task of managing climate change and its associated impacts by all stakeholders- including communities, civil society, labour and the private sector: with government taking a leadership and facilitative role.

“Each and every South African must be part of the climate action solution. At the end of the day, we are all in this together” says Dr. Molewa.

That the Paris Agreement is now in force less than a year since COP21 demonstrates the unity of purpose of the international community to tackle one of the most pressing issues of our time, she added.

The primary focus of COP22 is on operationalising the Paris Agreement by initiating the negotiation of the rules, procedures and guidelines for inclusive, just, fair and ambitious action by all to mitigate and adapt to the impacts of a changing climate on economies and society. Significant progress has taken place in this regard.

Delivering South Africa’s country statement on behalf of President Jacob Zuma, Dr. Molewa told delegates that if the world is to achieve the goal of 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) it was urgent that ambition gaps be closed, and that the Marrakech climate change conference place a particular priority on accelerating and enhancing pre-2020 action.

In this regard South Africa has proposed a number of actions to be urgently undertaken, inter alia:

  • Ensuring the entry into force of the Kyoto Protocol Doha Amendment as soon as possible;
  • The provision of implementation support to developing countries. In particular, it is essential to deliver the USD 100billion undertaking made in 2009 to support  ambitious pre-2020 climate action by developing countries; and
  • Ensuring the adaptation to climate change impacts are prioritized through translating the Paris Agreement global goal on adaptation into action, and also to provide for effective means to address actual climate change related loss and damage that occurs irrespective of whether any effort was made to adapt.

“It is here at COP22 that these crucial matters are under discussion following the entry into force of the Paris Agreement making this essentially an implementation Conference of Parties,” says Dr. Molewa.

“Furthermore, the agreement on provision of financial support by developed countries to developing countries, and the intention to scale this up from 2025 is an important signal of continued support for global climate action,” she added.

South Africa continues to play a leading role in the international climate change negotiations and has affirmed the need for coordinated climate action across all sectors and spheres of government.

The Department of Environmental Affairs’ team of negotiators, working with the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) are well-represented across various platforms and forums at COP22 where they are advancing the country’s positions around the financing, technology support and capacity building required for both pre and post 2020 climate action.

The delegation to COP22 is representative of all key national departments, local and provincial government, members of Parliament and other key stakeholder groupings.

South Africa has a progressive climate change legal and regulatory regime that strikes a balance between doing our part for the global climate change effort, and economic development.

We have committed to transition our country along a resource efficient, low carbon and pro-employment growth path.

Minister Molewa said that all South Africans can make a contribution towards the global effort through little actions.

“This can begin in the home: we can become more energy efficient by switching off lights not in use, switching to fluorescent or LED light-bulbs, and better insulating our homes from the elements,” she said. Switching to clean energy sources such as solar heating and making modifications to our transport routines such as walking or cycling instead of using private vehicles, can also make a difference.

“As South Africans we can hold our heads high in Marrakesh: we have ratified the Paris Agreement, which will bolster an already strong domestic Climate Change Response Policy. I call on all South Africans to do their part to reduce their personal carbon footprint,” says Minister Molewa.

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Albi Modise
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