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Africa urged not to allow climate change to threaten development

11-30-2011 14:43 BJT Special Report:Durban Climate Change Conference |

By Ntandoyenkosi Ncube and Shao Haijun

DURBAN, South Africa, Nov. 29 (Xinhua) -- Head of the South African delegation to the 17th Conference of the Parties (COP 17) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) is urging Africa to ensure that climate change does not pose threats to development in the continent.

"COP 17 must provide the opportunity for both South Africa and the Africa continent at large to ensure that climate change and the associated changes in the climate patterns do not threaten development," South African Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs Edna Molewa said in a joint press briefing with Minister of Economic Development Ebrahim Patel on Tuesday.

She said for Africa the success of the Durban climate change talks is central since it is projected that by 2080, about 70 million people and up to 30 percent of Africa's coastal infrastructure could "face the risk of coast flooding because of sea level rise."

Africa has contributed the least to the build-up of greenhouse gases globally, but will be in the frontline of the adverse effects of climate change. Combined with the severe development challenges the continent already faces, this makes Africans particularly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change foresees yields from rain-fed agriculture being reduced by 50 percent by as soon as 2020.

"Africa is more vulnerable because of poverty which limits the ability of most African nations to cope with the impact of climate change," South African President Jacob Zuma told the opening session of COP 17/CMP 7 on Monday.

The environmental affair minister told the media recently that the challenge for Africa is to decouple economic and social development from the burning of fossil fuels and deforestation to an extent which has no precedent in the developed world.

Africa needs to embark on a path of sustainable development with new, clean, appropriate technologies and to build climate resilient communities, so as to avoid the environmental mistakes of the developed world.

Focusing on the increasing effects of climate change, Molewa called for a global action to deal with the impacts. She said action to address the causes and impacts of climate change by "a single country or small group of countries will not be successful. "

"This is a global problem requiring a global solution through the concerted and cooperative efforts of all countries," the senior government official said.

The African Union has partnered with South Africa to ensure that the African Pavilion at COP17 effectively presents the issues of climate change that Africa is grappling with, and the opportunities for green development that responses to climate change hold for the continent.

"The outcome of the COP17/CMP7 must ensure that all countries acknowledge that the effects of climate change on the planet, its people and economies are not ignored and that we all have a responsibility to save the globe for the future generation," Molewa added.

The government minister said Pretoria recognizes that the success of COP17 is dependent on whether a balance can be struck.

"This balance must be achieved between operationalizing the Cancun decision and addressing pending issues from Bali that have not yet been finalized," she said.

The extent to which the COP 17 outcome is achieved depends on the extent to which developed countries meet their legal obligations to provide financial, capacity building, technology development and transfer support through the United Nations climate change regime.

On Tuesday, South Africa launched the Green Economy Accord at the COP17. The accord is one of the most comprehensive social pacts on green jobs in the world. Minister Patel said it builds a partnership to create 300,000 new jobs by 2020.

Editor:Zhang Hao |Source: Xinhua

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