We live in interesting and very challenging times. Governments have to really start taking decisions for the long term if we are to survive this century in any meaningful way.
In this chapter, I want to first look at what needs to be addressed internationally - the recommendations at the Hokkaido G8 Summit in 2008 from what has been termed the G5 (Brazil, China, India, Mexico and South Africa) - and then how South Africa is trying to lead by example.
In 1992, the United Nations Climate Change Convention was negotiated as a framework, an umbrella that establishes the key principles and areas of work. In 1995, governments around the world took decisive action and agreed to develop a new legal instrument, the Kyoto Protocol, as a first, but not sufficient, step under this framework.
Adopting another instrument that will coexist with the Kyoto Protocol under this convention framework, parts of which need to be legally binding, may well be what is required next to achieve a balance of interests.
First, we must give legally binding force to mitigation commitments by the one developed country that has not yet ratified the Kyoto Protocol. All eyes are now on the new administration in the US. They must make commitments comparable to the mid-term targets negotiated under the Kyoto Protocol for the second commitment period, and these must be supported by a robust compliance system. The absolute reduction targets for Annex I parties, in aggregate, should be towards the upper end of the range of 25 to 40 per cent below 1990 levels by 2020, and should underpin a long-term goal of domestic emission reductions in developed countries of 80 to 95 per cent below 1990 levels by 2050.
Second, we must create a binding regime for delivery by developed countries of technology, financing and capacity-building support for developing country action, which is measurable, reportable and verifiable. Predictable funding and technology flows to developing countries hold the potential to trigger commensurate nationally appropriate mitigation actions. This will ensure that we may bend the curve of our emissions to deviate substantially from our business-as-usual emission trajectories.
Finally, we must create a mechanism for international recognition of developing country action and to match actions with commensurate incentives.
We must ensure that global emissions peak in the next 10 to 15 years. Otherwise the world will become increasingly insecure. It is now time to raise the bar for all, albeit in a differentiated way for developed and developing countries. South Africa stands ready to do its part.
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