UN climate change talks officially opened

Briefing by H.E. Ms. Maite Nkoana Mashabane, Minister of International Relations and Cooperation of the Republic of SouthAfrica.

Maite Nkoana-Mashabanecalled for courage from negotiators in Durban (Source: UN/Eskinder Debebe)

By John Parnell                   RTCC in Durban

The UN climate change negotiations on climate change were officially opened this morning kickstarting two weeks of intense talks.

UNFCCC chief Christiana Figueres, South African President Jacob Zuma and the country’s international relations minister, and incoming president of the COP, Maite Nkoana-Mashabane all urged innovative solutions from the audience of negotiators.

“The effects of climate change go beyond this exhibition centre and effect the people on the streets,” said Mashabane.

“I will do my best to bring the parties together and find consensus. We will be counting on the courage and boldness of you the negotiators,” she added. “The second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol is a question that remains unanswered. A solution must be found.”

An estimated 20,000 delegates are in attendance in Durban as negotiations get underway.

High on the agenda are the possible second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol, the design of the $100bn Green Climate Fund proposed in last year’s talks in Cancun and the possibility of opening a process to discuss emission reduction commitments for developing nations.

UNFCCC chief Christiana Figueres echoed Mashabane’s calls: “The need for action has never been more compelling or more achievable”.

She also stressed the need for negotiators to make progress in establishing funding mechanisms.

“There is a critical need secure long- and mid-term financing and you need to reassure each other that you are committed to finding financial solutions,” she said.

President Zuma meanwhile urged the parties to look for answers that addressed the development needs of Africa in tandem with climate change.

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