South Africa offered yesterday to slow the growth of its greenhouse gas emissions by 34% by 2020, conditional on a broader international agreement and financial aid.
Africa’s biggest economy made the offer on the eve of international climate talks in Copenhagen, which it said President Jacob Zuma would attend.
“This level of effort enables South Africa’s emissions to peak between 2020 and 2025, plateau for approximately a decade and decline in absolute terms thereafter,” the presidency said in a statement on its website.
South Africa would lower its carbon emissions, largely from burning coal, to 34 % below expected levels by 2020 and around 42% below current trends by 2025, it said.
But the pledge was conditional on the offer of more funds and technological help from rich nations. Recession-hit developed countries have failed to come up with concrete offers of financial assistance in the run-up to the December 7-18 meeting in the Danish capital.
The industrialised world has done most to contribute to climate change after two centuries of burning fossil fuels, and developing countries want help to follow a lower carbon growth path.
“This undertaking is conditional on firstly, a fair, ambitious and effective agreement and secondly, the provision of support from the international community, and in particular finance, technology and support,” the South African statement said.
South Africa’s offer was its first quantification of how it plans to stop its greenhouse gas emissions from rising, the country’s chief climate negotiator Alf Wills told Reuters.
The planned peak in emissions between 2020 and 2025 would mark a step up from the previously announced peak of 2025.
The build-up to the world’s biggest climate talks has been dominated by arguments over how to share the burden of cutting greenhouse gases between developed and developing countries, and how to fund the effort in poorer nations.
Environmental groups welcomed the announcement as a positive step which should drive more ambitious emission reduction targets from developed countries.
“As the Copenhagen Climate Summit gets underway, this makes South Africa one of the stars of the negotiations, and adds yet another challenge to the industrialised world,” said Michelle Ntab Ndiaye, Executive Director of Greenpeace Africa.