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Cablegate: Climate Change - South African Views Post-Bangkok

VZCZCXRO0132
RR RUEHAST RUEHBZ RUEHDH RUEHDU RUEHHM RUEHJO RUEHLN RUEHMA RUEHMR
RUEHPB RUEHPOD RUEHRN RUEHSL RUEHTM RUEHTRO
DE RUEHSA #2180/01 2991514
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 261514Z OCT 09
FM AMEMBASSY PRETORIA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0003
INFO RUEHTN/AMCONSUL CAPE TOWN 7273
RUEHDU/AMCONSUL DURBAN 1351
RUEHJO/AMCONSUL JOHANNESBURG 9633
RUEHZN/ENVIRONMENT SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY COLLECTIVE
RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AF DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY COLLECTIVE
RUEHRC/USDA FAS WASHDC 2026

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 PRETORIA 002180

SIPDIS
SENSITIVE

DEPT FOR AF/S, OES/EGC, OES/PCI, SECC
USDA/FAS FOR MARK MANIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: SENV ENRG SF
SUBJECT: Climate Change - South African Views Post-Bangkok

REF: (A) PRETORIA 2170, (B) STATE 107536,
C) PRETORIA 2166

PRETORIA 00002180 001.2 OF 003


This cable is not for Internet distribution.

---------
SUMMARY
---------

1. (SBU) In an October 23 meeting with Emboffs, South African
climate change negotiator Joanne Yawitch argued for:
(1) Negotiating "within the framework that exists" rather than
"reopening the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change";
(2) Committing major public funds for mitigation and adaptation; and
(3) Acknowledging a difference between developed and developing
countries in capacity to bear the burden of reducing emissions,
including large emitters like South Africa. While expressing
frustration about "vague" USG proposals and EU "backtracking",
Yawitch insisted the SAG is working very hard on the negotiations
and expressed the belief that an agreement is possible with
compromise and ambitious commitments. End Summary.

----------------------
Status of Negotiations
----------------------

2. (U) Economic Minister Counselor and Environment, Science and
Technology Officer met with South African climate negotiator Joanne
Yawitch late the afternoon of October 23, as she prepared to travel
to Washington for a meeting of the World Bank's Clean Technology
Fund. As explained in Ref A, Yawitch is a Deputy Director General
in the Department of Water and Environmental Affairs, responsible
for national implementation of climate policy, and one of South
Africa's two lead negotiators under the UN Framework Convention on
Climate Change (UNFCCC).


3. (SBU) Yawitch voiced concern with what she saw as lack of
progress in Bangkok, given there are "only five negotiating days
left before Copenhagen". She complained that the U.S. is
"negotiating with its public instead of with its partners", that USG
proposals should be more specific at this point, that commitment to
more public funding is essential for mitigation and adaptation, and
that the EU position of "preserving the best bits of Kyoto" was
unrealistic and unhelpful at this point. In South Africa's view,
Kyoto must stay intact and Kyoto members should take action under
that agreement, with the U.S. taking "comparable but not equivalent"
action under the Bali Action Plan, and with developing countries
being assisted generously in their efforts.

4. (U) South Africa seeks to maintain a clear distinction between
"developed" and "developing" countries as defined in the Convention
and Bali Action Plan, considering itself a member of the developing
country group and opposed to differentiation among developing
countries that would group it with China.

------------------------------------
Mitigation - Time to Get Serious
----------------------------------

5. (SBU) Yawitch expressed skepticism that the U.S. and other
developed countries have gone as far as they can and should in their
commitments to reduce emissions. She stated that South Africa's
position is based on science, which requires countries to commit to
certain reduction targets to avoid the worst consequences of climate
change. In Bangkok, South Africa recommended that developed
countries commit to an aggregate target of 40 percent reductions
from 1990 levels by 2020. If they do not do this, Yawitch claimed,
the burden of making up the difference will fall to the developing
world, despite historical responsibility of developed countries for
Qworld, despite historical responsibility of developed countries for
greenhouse gas emissions.

---------
Finance
---------

6. (SBU) On financing for developing countries, Yawitch strongly
reiterated the SAG argument that large infusions of public funding
will be required "initially" to make interventions where markets are
failing, to enable countries - including South Africa - to "get off
first base". Emboffs asked how the new U.S. proposal on finance,
including a provision that all developing countries would be
eligible for funding, was received. Yawitch replied that the U.S.

PRETORIA 00002180 002.2 OF 003


proposal is still too general and does not clearly identify which
countries would have access to public finance, which countries would
contribute to the multilateral fund, and how governance would be
organized.

-------------------------
Where South Africa Fits
-------------------------

6. (SBU) Yawitch argued repeatedly for USG acknowledgement of a
difference between developed and developing countries' capacity to
tackle emissions reductions, "even for large emitters". South
Africa is concerned that it would not be eligible for public
multilateral funding for mitigation actions if it is categorized as
an "advanced developing country" along with China and India.
Yawitch became particularly animated on the question of where South
Africa fits. She said if South Africa were forced to "pay according
to its emissions intensity", this would "bankrupt" the country.
According to Yawitch, a GDP and emissions-based formula proposed by
Mexico would have South Africa paying USD 500 million a year into
such a fund. In her view, the simple ratio of tons of carbon per
person in the United States and in South Africa, or even GDP per
capita, does not reflect "the divides" between the two countries.
She suggested the UN Human Development Index as a better measure of
which countries should access assistance. (Note: The newest HDI
ranking was just released, with South Africa at position 129 of 182
countries. End note.)

7. (SBU) On the other hand, Yawitch expressed frustration with the
implication that developing countries could not be trusted to use
funds properly. While the SAG agrees completely that strong
governance systems are necessary, the assumption (Yawitch
specifically mentioned the French on this point) that developing
countries should not be on the board because they could not be
trusted to manage money bordered on "insulting".

-------------
NAMA Registry
-------------

8. (U) Emboffs asked Yawitch to amplify on South Africa's proposal
for a "lifecycle" of nationally appropriate mitigation actions
(NAMA), which received some positive interest in Bangkok. Yawitch
replied that the proposal was not new, but reformatting it into a
table may have made it easier to digest. The proposal addresses how
developing countries can register self-funded NAMAs to have actions
recognized and reported in national communications. The
registration of self-funded actions would not be mandatory, nor
would they be subject to the same standards of measurement,
reporting, and verification (MRV) as supported actions.


9. (U) Yawitch provided two examples of self-funded projects in
South Africa that might be registered as NAMAs: a large government
program to encourage or install solar hot water heaters, or getting
cars off the road with the "Gautrain", the 80-kilometer mass transit
rail project under construction in the Johannesburg-Pretoria
corridor. She said the first part of a project might be
self-financed, but additional related projects might require
assistance. Countries would register what they wanted to do and
then be matched with appropriate funds.

-------------------------------
Long-Term Mitigation Strategy
-------------------------------

10. (SBU) Yawitch admitted that South Africa lacks a "low carbon
growth plan", but claimed that the country's Long-Term Mitigation
Qgrowth plan", but claimed that the country's Long-Term Mitigation
Strategy, to which President Zuma's Cabinet reconfirmed its
commitment recently, is really just a study of mitigation
"potential", all contingent on identifying sufficient resources. As
an example, Yawitch pointed to one of LTMS's main tenets, increasing
the use of nuclear power, which is not eligible for international
financing.

---------------------
What can the U.S. do?
---------------------

11. (SBU) Asked her opinion of where the USG could best focus its
efforts to help move the negotiations forward, Yawitch offered three
suggestions that echoed the previous discussion:


PRETORIA 00002180 003.2 OF 003


- Clearly acknowledge the distinction between developed and
developing countries as defined in the Convention; do not try to
reopen the parameters of the Convention;

- Find a way to negotiate within the Bali Action Plan's
"subparagraph(b)(i)/(b)(ii)framework" of mitigation actions outlined
for developed and developing countries; and

- Find a way to address national circumstances and capabilities in a
meaningful way in terms of mitigation actions, access to finance,
and technology support.

12. (U) Yawitch agreed to try to adjust her tight schedule during
her visit to Washington for Clean Technology Fund meetings at the
World Bank to allow consultation with USG counterparts. Post passed
her contact information to OES Jonathan Pershing for followup.

GIPS

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