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Incoming COP17/CMP7 President: South Africa is Ready

November 14, 2011

As a prelude to Durban, here’s some information for your reading pleasure, adapted from the official COP17/CMP7 website.

What is COP?

Since the UNFCCC entered into force in 1995, the Conference of the Parties (COP) to the UNFCCC have been meeting annually to assess progress in dealing with climate change.

•The COP adopts decisions and resolutions, published in reports of the COP. Successive decisions taken by the COP make up a detailed set of rules for practical and effective implementation of the Convention.

What is CMP?

•The COP serves as the meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol, which also adopts decisions and resolutions on the implementation of its provisions.
•This annual meeting is referred to as the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (CMP).
•However, Parties to the Convention that are not Parties to the Protocol are able to participate in the CMP as observers, but without the right to take decisions.

COP/CMP Presidency

•The office of the Conference President rotates annually between the five United Nations (UN) regional groups. Mexico held the COP 16 / CMP 6 in 2010 and is currently the COP/CMP President.
•The African Group will be the next proud host of the Conference with COP 17 / CMP 7 taking place from 28 November to 9 December 2011 in Durban, South Africa. Kenya held the Presidency of the Conference in 2006 with the COP 12 / CMP 12 in Nairobi.
•Following the procedural rules of the Conference, it is customary for the COP and CMP to elect as President a minister from the host country. The President of COP 17/CMP 7 is Ms Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, the South African Minister of International Relations and Cooperation.

Why is South Africa Ready?

South Africa is particularly vulnerable to climate change because, among other things:

•A large proportion of our population has low resilience to extreme climate events (poverty; high disease burden; inadequate housing infrastructure and location);
•Large parts of South Africa already have low and variable rainfall;
•A significant proportion of our surface water resources are already fully allocated;
•Agriculture and fisheries are important for food security and local livelihoods.
Although the poor are only minor contributors to climate change, they are the most vulnerable and, hence, will be the most impacted. The rest of Africa is possibly even worse off.

The Economics of Climate Change in South Africa

South Africa has made a conscious effort to move towards a green economy as part of the country’s long term plan to grow the economy while mitigating the effects of climate change. South Africa is committed to a low carbon growth path over the long-term which is part of the nation’s action to contribute to the global effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The country’s green economy growth path addresses economic growth without exposing future generations to environmental risks. Under its robust Long-Term Mitigation Scenarios (LTMS), it is agreed that emissions would peak around 2020 to 2025, plateau for a decade and then decline in absolute terms from around 2035. South Africa is taking concrete actions that will see its carbon emissions 34 per cent lower in 2020 than they would have otherwise been and 43% lower in 2025.

South Africa aim’s to structurally transform its economy from an energy-intensive to a climate-friendly path as part of a pro-growth, pro-development and pro-jobs strategy. The Medium-Term Strategic Framework, guiding government’s programme from 2009 to 2014, aims to further explore the concept of “green jobs”.

Increasing capacity in green technologies and industries that combat the negative effects of climate change will create new employment opportunities.Hi-tech innovations required for green industries will help employment grow over the long-term, as new technology spreads throughout the economy and transforms other, larger sectors.

The renewable energy industry is expected to create about 300 000 jobs over ten years, with 20000 jobs in the next two years. These figures include jobs in the construction, manufacturing, and operation and management of power plants covering solar, bio fuels, small hydro, and pyrolysis technologies.

Should South Africa be able to capture 2% of the estimated global green economy in the next five years, we can expect to create up to 400000 jobs in energy, manufacturing, agriculture, mining and services. The global move into a low carbon, resource efficient and sustainable economy has a potential to create a large number of jobs across the economy.

Recently the South African Treasury introduced an ad valorem carbon tax on new passenger cars which was the start of South Africa’s environmental fiscal reform. The carbon tax on vehicles was payable from September 2010 and ranges from 0,6% to 4,1%, depending on how much the cars emit. The tax is part of the country’s initiative is to influence the composition of South Africa’s vehicle fleet to become more energy efficient and environmentally friendly.

For more information on COP17CMP7, visit the following websites:

COP17/CMP7 Durban

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