S. Africa Says Climate Summit Should Focus on Future Treaty

A climate summit starting in South Africa next week won’t produce a legally binding international agreement and should instead seek to lay the groundwork for a future treaty, Environment Minister Edna Molewa said.

“Recognizing that a comprehensive legal agreement will not be reached, South Africa envisages” that the negotiations will focus on implementing the non-binding Cancun Agreements reached last year in Mexico, Molewa told reporters in Cape Town today. They should also “pave the way for a comprehensive multilateral, rules-based climate regime.”

More than 190 nations will meet in the eastern port city of Durban from Nov. 28 to Dec. 9 to discuss climate regulations after 2012, when the current emission-reduction targets for developed nations under the Kyoto Protocol expire. Countries including Japan and Russia have said they don’t want to extend Kyoto unless it’s expanded to bring in the U.S. and China.

“We have no option but to deal with the outstanding political issues,” Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, South Africa’s minister of international relations, told reporters. “This means finding a resolution to the issue of the second commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol and agreeing on the legal nature of a future climate change system.”

The Cancun agreements include forest protection, methods to verify nations’ pledged emissions cuts and establishment of a Green Climate Fund to channel as much as $100 billion a year by 2020.

The government expects about 16,000 officials, 1,500 journalists and 20,000 civil society representatives to participate in the Durban gathering, Nkoana-Mashabane said.

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