Cancun Climate Talks: Will South Africa Show Real Leadership?

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Press release - November 30, 2010
Greenpeace today challenged the South African government to build momentum for a strong climate deal at the climate talks in Cancun, Mexico.

Johannesburg – 30 November 2010. During the climate negotiations (COP16) in Cancun that will last until 10 December, a global deal is not expected. However governments in Mexico need to make some absolutely crucial decisions in key areas like climate finance and forests – and to agree on a clear pathway towards a legally binding deal in the COP17 negotiations taking place in Durban, South Africa next year. 

The South African government must seize the opportunity of being the hosting country of the climate talks next year and take a leadership role now. South Africa must not only push for a deal in the international negotiations, but must also choose a sustainable pathway to a clean energy future domestically.

Greenpeace Africa’s Nkopane Maphiri states, “our government must ensure that the country reduces its massive dependency on coal and creates a sustainable energy future for South Africans, based on the efficient use of energy and large scale development of renewable energy. The use of renewable energy will stimulate the creation of green jobs and help end energy poverty, a win-win situation - the only missing ingredient is political will.”

One of the biggest questions in Cancun is centred around what governments would do about the lack of participation of the US. The argument that the US is a major emitter and must be part of a global agreement is increasingly looking like an excuse for inaction on the part of other governments.  Yet countries like South Africa and China are perfectly positioned to take a leadership role here – a role sorely lacking from developed countries. 

Nkopane Maphiri added, “Cancun presents both an opportunity and a choice for governments.  It is an opportunity for them to park the US question for now – and move forward to reap the benefits of clean development, creating a future that is safe from the ravages of climate change. Cancun is where Governments need to regain their momentum in a race to the future and if the US doesn’t want to join, then perhaps others need to move on.”


Greenpeace Africa Contacts

Nkopane Maphiri, Climate and Energy Campaigner: +27 (0) 72 560 8666

Fiona Musana, Communications Director Greenpeace Africa: +27 (0) 795129381