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Statement by South Africa at the closing plenary of the COP21 to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change

Paris, France, 12 December 2015


Mr President;
Your Excellency, Mr Secretary-General;
Madam Executive Secretary;
Distinguished delegates;
Ladies and gentlemen


1. I have the honour to deliver this statement on behalf of my country, South Africa

2. At the outset, allow me to convey my sincere appreciation for the leadership of France as COP President during this conference. The tireless efforts by Minister Fabius and the dedicated team of the Presidency inspired all Parties to work constructively and in a spirit of compromise – not only on concluding the Paris Agreement – but also on addressing issues that have a direct bearing on the urgent implementation of our actions to address climate change.

3. It has been four years of hard work under the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action. The text we have before us is not perfect, but we believe that it represents a solid foundation from which we can launch our enhanced action with renewed determination. It is our view that the Agreement is balanced and the best we can do at this historic moment. President


4. South Africa supports the adoption of the Paris Agreement, as reflected in document FCCC/CP/2015/L.9. We believe that this Agreement can mark the turning point to a better and safer world.

5. We accept this text without any amendments. We do however wish to note that further technical work is required on the decision texts as many of the balances that are needed by developing countries are captured in the decisions.

6. This conference should be regarded as a tribute to the French COP Presidency under whose leadership we are able to leave Paris today with a stronger, more robust multilateral rules-based system under the Convention.

7.  It should be recognized that the Paris Agreement represents a major leap forward for developing countries, creating new legal obligations that they did not have before. Again, developing countries have been asked to take this leap without the firm commitments to provide the support that will enable us to contribute our fair share. For our efforts to combat climate change to be successful, it is critical that developed countries significantly enhance the ambition of their actions and ensure that the enhanced actions of developing countries are adequately supported. In the build up to this conference we have noticed and welcomed the pledges of support made by a number of developed country Parties. This support has to be sustained if we with to have any meaningful action.


8. Turning now to the need to address pre-2020 implementation, the closing of the pre-2020 ambition gap is essential and the work of the COP in this regard must remain our focus. We have been focusing strongly on the creation of a post-2020 climate agreement and therefore spent less time on major tasks that would enhance our implementation pre-2020. We must now refocus our attention to the urgent tasks at hand.

9. A number of key issues related to the COP finance agenda unfortunately could not receive the appropriate consideration, particularly issues related to long-term finance and the guidance to the Standing Committee on Finance. We expect to come back in Morocco with substantive discussions on increasing finance ambition pre 2020.


10. South Africa believes that this conference represents the first step in a long journey that the global community needs to undertake together.

In this regard, Mr President

11. In your inspiring address this morning, you reminded us of the wisdom of former South African President, Mr Nelson Mandela. At this historic moment, we now fondly recall words that are particularly relevant for our road ahead. Mr Nelson Mandela said and I quote:

“I have walked that long road to freedom. I have tried not to falter; I have made missteps along the way. But I have discovered the secret that after climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb. I have taken a moment here to rest, to steal a view of the glorious vista that surrounds me, to look back on the distance I have come. But I can only rest for a moment, for with freedom come responsibilities, and I dare not linger, for my long walk is not ended.”

I thank you