PRETORIA – The Paris Agreement on climate change, which aims to keep global warming to a maximum increase of two degrees Celsius, with efforts to contain it at 1.5 degrees, would not have been possible without South Africa’s role in the process, President Jacob Zuma said on Sunday.
One-hundred-and-ninety-five countries at the 21st Conference of Parties (COP 21) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) adopted a historic agreement in Paris on Saturday to address greenhouse gas emission for the post-2020 period, while increasing countries’ ability to adapt to the adverse impacts of climate change during the next session.
“This would not have been possible if South Africa had not delivered the outcomes it did as president of COP17/CMP7, held in Durban in 2011,” Zuma said in a statement.
The success in Paris was the culmination of the watershed Durban climate change conference where COP agreed to the mandate for the Paris Agreement, he said.
“We congratulate South Africans for this contribution to finding solutions to a global challenge. We also thank the United Nations for the opportunity provided to us to play this role.”
The agreement was also reached as South Africa chaired the Group of 77 plus China – a group of more than 130 developing countries representing more than eighty percent of the world’s population.
The group was comprised of a diverse group of countries, but united by the goal to protect their vulnerable and poor.
“Under South Africa’s leadership the Group of 77 plus China was more united than ever before in the history of the climate change negotiations and South Africa managed to rally this group of developing countries, which made a decisive difference in building the political will that was required to reach agreement on this important issue,” Zuma said.
Climate change posed a grave threat to developing countries’ ability to ensure that their people were lifted out of poverty. It had therefore been a great honour for South Africa to play such a key role at both the beginning and at the end of the process through which the international community worked towards reaching this historic solution.
The agreement presented a big step forward in committing all countries to act decisively against climate change.
“Through this agreement, hope has been restored for a safe and prosperous future, where climate change will be adequately addressed,” he said.