South Africa says to stand firm on emission reductions

18:14, November 06, 2009      

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South Africa can't afford to take on any binding emission reduction targets at a UN climate change conference in Copenhagen next month, South African Environment Minister Buyelwa Sonjica stated on Thursday.

Sonjica told journalists in Cape Town that South Africa's expectations for the outcome of Copenhagen are informed by "national interests and strategic priorities," the South African Press Association reported.

"South Africa is a developing country with huge developmental challenges and needs carbon space in order to meet our developmental needs.

"We cannot afford to take on any binding emission reduction targets. Expectations for the outcome of conference on Copenhagen are informed by our national interests and our strategic priorities," the minister was quoted as saying.

Sonjica said South Africa needed global reductions in greenhouse gas emissions to ensure the impacts of climate change did not undermine development in areas such as health, job loss, droughts and floods.

South Africa has an energy intensive economy and in order to transform to a clean energy one needs access to international finance and technology, she said.

Low carbon and clean technology development and innovation are areas where South Africa can benefit from international participation.

"Given South Africa's social and economic inequalities and developmental challenges, its vulnerability to the impacts of rising global temperatures, it is crucial to secure a fair outcome in Copenhagen," he said.

Sonjica said South Africa is cautiously optimistic about a deal emerging from the talks.

"South Africa has consistently indicated its willingness to contribute to global action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions within the framework of developed countries' historical responsibility for current emissions and a common responsibility by all for the future," he said.

Despite not being legally bound to any targets, South Africa is actively exploring mitigation options with the clean technology fund (CTF) -- a G8 climate change initiative aimed at providing long term highly concessional loan funding for low carbon development -- to meet its clean technology goals.

Sonjica said the CTF board had endorsed a clean technology plan for South Africa in Washington in October.

The board agreed to grant up to 500 million U. S. dollars to finance the plan, which prioritizes solar water heaters, grid-connected solar power options wind power.

Source: Xinhua
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