16 June 2011
Press Conference

Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Press Conference by South African Minister on Climate Change Convention Conference


It was critical for the outcome of the 2011 Conference of Parties to the Climate Change Convention to make operational the agreements reached last year in Cancun, but also to move forward on all aspects of the climate-change agenda, according to the Foreign Minister of South Africa, where the Conference will be held.


“We emphasize a balanced outcome”, said Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, South African Minister of International Relations and Cooperation and incoming President of the seventeenth session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) of the Conference planned for Durban from 28 November to 9 December.


Speaking at a Headquarters press conference today, the Foreign Minister said that the Cancun agreements, which would formalize climate change mitigation pledges and create mechanisms to protect the world’s forests, could go a long way to assist developed countries most at risk from climate change.  However, many elements of the climate change agenda, of concern to both developed and developing countries, had been left out of that agreement.


In addition, with 2012 the final year of the term of the Kyoto Protocol — the only binding international instrument that sets limits on carbon emissions — it was crucial to make sure that negotiations were advancing on a successor agreement to prevent a regulatory void after that year.


Towards those ends, the presidency of the Durban Conference was reaching out to delegations and all other stakeholders in preparation for the Conference, in order to help deliver an acceptable, equitable and transparent deal.  As part of that effort, on this trip to New York, she had met with the “Group of 77” developing countries and China and the United Nations Climate Change Team to exchange notes on the negotiations thus far.


In September, during the high-level segment of the General Assembly, Presidents Jacob Zuma of South Africa and Felipe Calderón of Mexico were planning to lead a joint dialogue to “set the tone as we move toward Durban”, she noted.  In addition, another preliminary meeting had been proposed for the end of September or beginning of October, in Panama.


In response to questions, Ms. Nkoana-Mashabane stressed the need for inclusiveness and transparency in the upcoming negotiations.  “If we have our way, we do not want to leave any party outside the agreements,” she said, adding that it was clear that rapid climate change was demanding leadership from major economies, and all countries must come to the table and rise to the urgency of the matter.  The United States was participating and raising its concerns through the negotiation process and had been trying hard to be positive, she commented.


On the linkages between the Durban Conference of Parties and the Rio+20 meeting on Sustainable Development, planned for mid-2012, she said that, with advancement on the climate change agenda, as well as on related areas such as biodiversity, a solid platform could be laid for international efforts on sustainable development.


On other issues, she said that one of the objectives of her visit was to support the African Union’s ad hoc High-Level Committee on Libya, which was working towards a resolution of the Libyan crisis.  The purpose of the Committee’s visit was to ensure continued interaction with the Security Council on the issue.  She said that the Committee condemned violence by all parties in Libya and called on the international community to find a political solution and not a military one, along the lines of the African Union road map.  She called for the adoption of a proposed presidential statement that focussed on the Union’s road map.


Asked whether South Africa opposed continued bombing in Libya by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), she said that it was clear that the African road map had been incorporated into resolution 1973 (2011) on the insistence of several members who did not envision the Government’s bombing to be replaced by foreign bombing, in the quest to protect civilians.  The continued NATO bombings, she said, were not necessarily in line with resolution 1973.  “We are saying no to regime change that comes from the outside,” she added.


She said her country had reservations over a proposed resolution condemning violence in Syria because the negotiations should not be rushed and the Government should be engaged in dialogue.  It was important not to push in every crisis for quick resolutions that implied support for regime change.  Clarity was needed.  Libya and Syria were two different situations, she stressed.


* *** *


For information media • not an official record