No climate holiday before 2020


City Press, Paris

The next five years will not be a time for complacency, South Africa reminded negotiating parties on Tuesday at the COP21 climate talks in Paris. Environment Minister Edna Molewa emphasised that parties had committed themselves at COP17 in Durban to start working on reducing greenhouse gases before 2020.

Speaking at a joint press conference with mega developing countries that make up the Basic negotiation group – India, China, Brazil and South Africa – Molewa said parties had a responsibility to honour the mandate agreed to in Durban in 2011.

The Basic group has consistently maintained the need for developed countries to take the lead in emissions reductions, and to provide financial and technological support to developing countries to combat climate change. 

The Durban platform agreed to pin down actions needed by countries to limit greenhouse gas emissions before the expected Paris agreement will take effect in 2020. This part of the discussions is essential to remind big polluters that whatever deal Paris concludes doesn’t mean they’re off the hook for another five years.

“No party can actually deviate from this agreed position,” Molewa said. 

India’s Environment Minister, Prakash Jawadekar, also said pre-2020 action was important. “We can’t have a climate holiday for five years,” he said. 

China's special representative for climate change, Xie Zhenhua, said the world needed to pin down action before 2020: “We need to honour the commitment we made at Durban, and then after 2020 we can ramp up the ambition with the new Paris agreement.” 

Financing was still the most important issue for the group. In a joint statement, the Basic delegations urged rich nations "progressively and substantially to scale up their support" beyond their collective pledge of $100 billion in annual climate financing by 2020.

Jawadekar said the actions of the developing world depended on finance and technological support from the developed world, “because they have, and we don’t have. The haves must provide.”

So far the developing world has not seen much of the promised funds. Rich countries "have not made much headway" toward the $100 billion they pledged in 2009, he said.

China's Xie agreed, saying “we are definitely not seeing the money that we reportedly got”.

Yet rich countries say they are on track to fulfil their pledges, citing a recent Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development report which said climate finance for developing countries reached $62 billion in 2014.

The Basic ministers were scathing about the OECD figures, accusing the rich nations of “double accounting”. They said the number was not an accurate reflection of the flow of finances to the developing world. 

Molewa said the figures could not be trusted, and the developing countries were never part of that narrative.

“We still need to establish exactly what has been paid," she said. "This Paris COP needs to establish an accounting methodology.”