Developing Country Action on Global Warming: Speech of South African Minister at NRDC event


I just wrapped up an event that NRDC co-hosted with Climate Change Capital on Emerging Strategies for International Climate & Investment Policy on Capital Hill. The event was aimed at beginning a serious discussion about how to structure international incentives to encourage greater emissions reductions in developing countries in the post-2012 agreement in Copenhagen (Dec. 2009).

We had the pleasure of having Minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk of the South African Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism provide a keynote address. He is a powerful leader amongst developing countries and South Africa is staking out a leadership role in battling global warming. In July 2008, South Africa announced a Cabinet-level commitment to have their global warming pollution peak, plateau, and decline.

So at this important junction as President-elect Obama is on the cusp of working to restore America's global leadership on global warming and the international negotiations are moving into high-gear in the lead-in to Copenhagen, we had a first hand account from Minister van Schwalkwyk on the role of developing countries in addressing this global challenge. He also pointed out the need for the US to show leadership by capping its global warming pollution which is a key building block of getting a strong international agreement (I won't discuss these points here as I'll have further posts on the whole issue of developed country targets).

And, we weren't disappointed as he gave a powerful talk on key elements of this challenge with some insights that are worth highlighting (the whole speech is available here and worth a read, but I've included some key points).

Minister van Schalkwyk had this to say about the new dynamic that can emerge in the international negotiations:

"We look forward to the unlocking of a new dynamic in international climate negotiations as the US assumes an international leadership role that is underpinned by ambitious domestic action and solidarity with developing countries."

He highlighted the emissions trend in South Africa and the implications:

"If we continue with a business as usual growth path, our emissions will almost quadruple...by 2050. Continuing along this path will be a high risk approach. We are clear that it would be socially, economically, politically and environmentally unsustainable. We cannot continue to grow without a carbon constraint."

But South Africa has committed to reverse this trend... Continued...

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