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SWS Commission

SI Commission and environment ministers set priorities and targets for Durban

30-31 October 2011

On the Road to Durban: Priorities and Targets for COP17

The Socialist International Commission for a Sustainable World Society, having met in Johannesburg in advance of the COP17/CMP7 Summit in Durban, expresses its confidence and optimism in the role of the government of South Africa, which will host and chair the forthcoming conference, to conclude an agreement that fulfils the objectives of our movement and of our citizens across the world for a sustainable future for the planet.

Taking into account the outcomes of COP16 in Cancún, and the progress made over the last twelve months on the agreements reached, the Commission declares:

• That Durban has to act decisively to put into place the proposals worked out since Cancún for the definitive functioning and operation of the Green Climate Fund by adopting the report of the Transitional Committee. Durban should also establish the long-term sources of finance for the Fund and examine the potential for revenue generation from other tools, such as a carbon tax.

• Because this COP17 takes place in Africa, one of the continents most affected by climate change, in the view of the Commission it should address with vigour the case of the most vulnerable states, those with least resources, the most exposed such as small island developing states (SIDS) at risk of disappearing as nations and those with the lowest human development indices. In the case of the SIDS it amounts to the respect for the human rights of the citizens of those countries, an issue to which the international community must give its utmost priority.

• As we are already suffering the consequences of climate change, adaptation must be an essential element of the Durban outcome as a key priority for many developing countries. The current fragmented approach to adaptation must be addressed in a more coherent manner, to ensure an outcome that will lead to the concrete implementation of adaptation actions.

• Durban should formalise mitigation pledges from individual developed countries or blocs of countries and deepen their scope to come to a net reduction of emissions which would limit the increase in global temperature to a maximum of 2°C, and to continue to look into the goal of a 1.5°C increase as mentioned in Cancún.

• Progress needs to be achieved in mitigation efforts by the increased provision of finance, technology and capacity-building support to developing countries’ nationally appropriate mitigation actions (NAMAs), recognising that economic development and poverty eradication are the first and overriding priorities of those countries.

• Recognising that funding for adaptation is dependent on the level of ambition, it must receive the same level of support as mitigation, in particular in relation to the issue of technology and capacity-building for developing countries.

• For the protection of forests, Durban should set targets on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) and ensure future financing. It is also important to protect the needs of forest communities which have always played a crucial role in conserving those forests.

• Subsistence agriculture and food production should be protected, keeping in mind that water scarcity is a major threat to the world, in particular to developing nations’ agricultural production. In this regard, the Green Climate Fund should provide for improvements in water uses, cooperation and technology transfers in the field of agriculture and aid to rural communities for skill development.

• Durban should move forward in the establishment of systems for measurement, reporting and verification of commitments made and of the actions undertaken to reduce emissions and support received, while contemplating mechanisms to make these obligations binding and agree sanctions in the case of non-compliance.

• Durban should explore the issue of policies to incentivise the use of renewable technologies to ensure that the energy mix in the future keeps in line with our vision of sustainability and low emissions.

• As stated in the Commission report, effective education is vital for the next generation to gain a full understanding of the common humanity of our world and a shift in attitude from one based on consumption to one based on sustainable thinking.

• The paradigm of a low carbon society as spelled out in the title of our commission’s report and echoed in the Cancún agreements should be the way forward. For Durban to be successful, it has to do more than making the Cancún agreements operational and must deal with outstanding political issues remaining from the Bali Roadmap. This means finding a resolution to the issue of the second commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol and agreeing on a framework for the future legal nature of climate change discussions under the convention. In this regard, it is vital that there be no gap between the first and second commitment periods.

The Commission wholeheartedly endorsed the words of President Zuma in his opening address at this meeting, recognising that Durban is just a step in a long journey because this planet was loaned to us by our forbearers for safekeeping for our children. We must work together to save tomorrow today. This is our vision for COP17/CMP7. It will take all of us to win the battle against climate change.


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