At a breakfast with businesspeople in Johannesburg, the international relations and cooperation minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane spelt out what the government’s stance at the upcoming COP17 conference in Durban was going to be. The South African government will seek a balance between avoiding the impasse that defined the Copenhagen conference, and setting out a strong pro-development stance that most emerging economies want. By SIPHO HLONGWANE.
It is important that the 17th Conference of Parties (COP17) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change does not see a repeat of the political impasse that happened at the 15th conference in Copenhagen. This was the sentiment repeated by Nkoana-Mashabane on Monday. She was addressing a breakfast attended by various representatives from businesses with a stake in the conference. She expressed again that the world would expect the conference to go swimmingly, as it would be held in South Africa.
“[The world expects that] if South Africa hosts it, it must be good,” Nkoana-Mashabane said. “This is partly because of our struggles, and partly because there was no coup [leading up to 1994]. We sat around the table and talked.”
She also said developing countries feared they would have to curtail their fledgling industrial economies if too great a burden for climate changes was pressed on them at COP17. The priority of such countries would be development. “People must eat before you can raise these other issues,” she said.
In case you’re worried this means nobody would come out to bat for global policies and agreements to combat climate change, Nkoana-Mashabane also said she would push very strongly as the incoming COP president for a new climate change deal out of Durban to replace the expiring Kyoto Protocol. DM