Durban should not be the place where the Kyoto Protocol dies and is buried, KwaZulu-Natal Premier Zweli Mkhize said on Monday.
A deal to save the planet should be worked out at the UN climate change conference, the 17th Conference of Parties (COP 17), which starts in Durban on Monday, he said.
“We wish Durban to be a world landmark for decisive action and a global giant leap from Cancún into a positive future for mankind.”
Mkhize was addressing delegates in Durban at a pre-COP 17 conference attended by Environment Minister Edna Molewa.
The Kyoto Protocol, which came into effect on February 16 2005, is an international agreement which sets binding targets for 37 industrialised countries and the European community on the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.
COP 16 was held in Cancún, in Mexico, in 2010 and led to a second commitment period for the Kyoto Protocol.
Durban should be remembered for having hosted a conference that resulted in ground-breaking decisions which would generate hope, said Mkhize.
It was important that serious action be taken to deal with climate change, he said, adding that KwaZulu-Natal’s rural areas would be severely affected by climate change.
“Trends show that the rural areas will feel the impacts of climate change to a much greater extent than the urban areas,” Mkhize said.
They would be the most affected because they depended heavily on agriculture for survival.
“The agriculture sector is of key strategic importance given the comparative advantages that KwaZulu-Natal possesses with regard to its land labour resources.”
Mkhize said KwaZulu-Natal produced about 30% of the national agricultural output. The province’s forestry sector was also highly sensitive to climate change.
“If we deal with challenges of climate change, KwaZulu-Natal has potential to create a substantially high number of jobs in the shorter time frame.”
Speaking during the conference, Molewa said the South African government was approaching COP 17 with confidence, and preparations had gone well.
She said the country did not underestimate its task during the conference.
COP 17 begins at the Inkosi Albert Luthuli International Conference Centre on Monday and ends on December 9.