Water and Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa. Picture: FINANCIAL MAIL
Water and Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa. Picture: FINANCIAL MAIL

WATER and Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa said the UN climate change talks in Doha revolved around the level of finance the developing world got for its adaptation to and mitigation of climate change’s effects.

Just under 200 nations are gathered in Doha, Qatar for the UN climate change talks aimed at securing a new global deal for reducing the global emission of greenhouse gases linked to the overall rise in planetary temperatures that is precipitating climate change. At the Durban conference, it was agreed a new deal would be negotiated by 2015, and implemented by 2020.

Speaking a day ahead of the "high level segment" of the conference in which ministers make decisions on the negotiating texts, Ms Molewa said the talks would ramp up on Tuesday when the high-level kicked off.

Negotiators has all but exhausted the work they could do without their ministers, she said.

"An effective global solution to the climate change crisis involves the negotiation of delicate balances and trade-offs between a wide range of extremely complex, highly political and sometimes conflicting sets of social, economic, environmental and development issues," Ms Molewa said.

Ms Molewa said South Africa needed to ensure the affects of climate change did not undermine South Africa’s development, or that of the African continent and the world at large.

South Africa needed a strengthened international climate regime that ensured the global greenhouse gas reductions that were required by science.

The World Bank last month released research showing that the world was not on track to curb emissions enough to keep the overall rise of planetary temperatures to below 2°C, as agreed at previous talks. Some scientists have warned that the overall rise in global temperatures should be restricted to 1.5°C in order to stave-off damaging climate change.

The World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) said in Doha last week that the first 10 months of this year look set to make it the ninth warmest since records began.

The years 2001-11 were all among the warmest since record-taking started in 1850, and not even La Nina’s cooling effect staved-off the 2012’s heat, the organisation said releasing preliminary findings from a study that will be fully released early next year.

"It is likely 2012 will be one of the warmest years on record," said WMO deputy secretary general Jerry Lengoasa.

The WMO research is based on three data sets: one maintained by the UK Meteorological Office’s Hadley Centre and the University of East Anglia’s Climatic Research Unit, the second that of the US’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the third the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s Goddard Institute of Space Studies.

The first 10 months of 2012 were characterised by heat waves, drought — including the economically devastating one that covered nearly two-thirds of continental US, floods, and also a Eurasian cold spell notable for its intensity, duration and effect, and, of course, the unprecedented Arctic ice melt and the devastating hurricane Sandy, the WMO said.

Ms Molewa said the Doha talks needed to finalise work agreed to at last year’s Durban talks, including implementing urgent action in the gap between 2013 and the 2015, the finalisation of a new global deal, and designing a new deal by 2015.

Agreement on a second commitment period for the Kyoto Protocol, the world’s first and only global deal on how to diminish greenhouse gas emissions is still not finalised, bar that there should be a second commitment period even though the protocol now covers only 15% of global emissions. This is because the US never ratified it and other countries, notably Japan and Russia, have said they will not sign up to a second commitment period.

The US has not ruled out joining the 2015 deal, especially because it is set to demand emissions reductions targets from developing countries as much as it does from developed countries.

US special envoy for climate change Todd Stern said on Monday that the US would be able to stomach such a deal, a "180 degree" about turn from the Kyoto Protocol that demanded emissions reductions from industrialised nations and not from the developing world.

Mr Stern, however, said while it would be "enormously challenging" to reach agreement on a 2015 deal, it was "an enormously important task to get this right".

The Kyoto Protocol’s first commitment period ends on December 31. No second commitment period has yet agreed upon, with some countries and regions asking for an eight-year period and others for one of five years.

Doha’s work also included devising a work programme that would ramp up the current pre-2020 greenhouse gas emissions diminishment levels.