The next five years will certainly not be a time for complacency, South Africa reminded parties at the climate talks, COP21, in Paris.
Environmental Minister Edna Molewa said yesterday that parties committed at COP17 in Durban to start working on reducing greenhouse gases before 2020.
Speaking at a joint press conference where mega developing countries India, China and Brazil defined progress at the talks, she said parties at had a responsibility to honour the Durban mandate.
South Africa, India, Brazil and China make up the Basic negotiation group. This cluster of nations was formed as a reaction to the ever increasing pressure on big developing countries and has become quite a formidable force in the negotiations.
The group has publicly maintained the need for developed countries to take the lead in emission reductions and also to fulfil the support needed for developing countries through finance and technology for undertaking actions.
Molewa’s reference to the Durban platform stems from the hard work that South Africa had put in at COP17 to keep the negotiations alive.
A Paris agreement would take effect in 2020.
This part of the discussions is meant to remind big polluters that the Paris deal doesn’t mean they’re off the hook for another five years.
“No party could actually deviate from this agreed position,” she said.
India’s environmental minister Prakash Javadekar and Xie Zhenhua, China’s special representative for climate change, also iterated that pre-2020 action was important.
“We can’t have a climate holiday for five years,” he said.
Xie said the world needed to pin down action before 2020.
“We need to honour the commitment we made at Durban,” he said.
“And then after 2020 we can ramp up the ambition with the new Paris agreement.”
Financing was still the most important issue for the group. In a joint statement, the delegations of China, India, Brazil and South Africa urged rich nations to “progressively and substantially scale up their support” beyond their collective pledge of $100 billion in annual climate financing by 2020.
Javadekar said the action of developing world depended on finance and technological support from the developed world.
“Because they have, and we don’t have, the haves must provide,” he said.
But so far the developing world has not seen much of the promised funds. Rich countries “have not made much headway” toward the $100 billion that they pledged in 2009.
Xie agreed, saying “we are definitely not seeing the money that we reportedly got”.
Yet rich countries say they are on track to fulfil that pledge, citing the latest Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development report this year, which said climate finance for developing countries reached $62 billion last year.
The delegations were quite scathing about the organisation’s figures, accusing the rich nations of doing “double accounting.”
They refused to acknowledge that the number was an accurate reflection of the flow of finances to the developing world.
Molewa said the organisation had done some work about what had already gone into financing, but that these figures could not be trusted. She said developing countries were never part of that narrative.
“It is double accounting, and can’t be accounted for. We still have to agree what has to be counted. The mechanism isn’t in place yet.”
The rich nations also want major developing nations including China to join the donors, but Xie said China was already contributing through bilateral relationships with the countries most in need. All the delegations stressed that rich countries had made a pledge in Copenhagen, and that they should keep to this.
China said outside this agreement had promised more than $3 billion in climate finance but stressed it was a voluntary contribution.