Cop 17: Is SA or Africa equal to the task?

South Africa is still counting the successes of hosting the World Cup finals, held from June 11 to July 11 2010, which Sepp Blatter, the Fifa president rated as 9/10.

Quite a very high achievement for a country from the Southern pole or even for the First World countries.

The event was quite ecstatic, complemented by ear-rupturing vuvuzelas and a colourful atmosphere filled with appetising scent of roasted vorse (boerewors) as well as singing the misplaced Waka-Waka by Shakira Rabiosa.

Indeed this was South Africa’s special moment.
With the sounds of vuvuzelas yet to die down, in the very same year, South Africa was given another chance to host yet another world class event — The Climate Change Conference of Parties (Cop 17), set to take place in Durban from November 28 to December 9 2011.

What an achievement! Even countries like the United States, UK, Japan and France will be grinning with envy.

With all due respect and without taking anything away from South Africa, yes, it can host the Climate Change conference, but the successes are going to be very limited.

There is not going to be vuvuzelas this time, neither is there going to be Shakira, besides, South Africa is not going to be in control of the proceedings.

At this forum, issues like carbon cuts, funding for CDM and carbon offsets will be at stake. South Africa as a member of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (Brics) should walk the talk by cutting down its carbon emissions by 34% by 2020.

The Brics is made up of countries like Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa and besides their impressive industrial development, they are among the worst emitters of carbon.

The main worry is not South Africa being a member of the Brics; the problem is how South Africa is managing the planning phase for the November-December occasion.

There might be two scenarios to this whole issue, either South Africa chooses to go it alone like it did for the World Cup or it chooses to engage other African countries in the process.

If South Africa chooses to go it alone in a bid to score another 9/10, then it would compound the whole process. Of late, it is the clashing voices of South African politicians and environmentalists we are hearing. Things appear in order just four months before this grand occasion.

Politicians, as usual, always make triumphant and bold statements even when the background is in disarray.

On the other hand, environmentalists are professionals who always want things to be done appropriately and timely without allowing politics to cloud their thinking.

What is even more puzzling is, away from South Africa’s verbal tirades, the rest of Africa is mute, choosing to adopt an observer status yet they are supposed to be important stakeholders. Unless quiet diplomacy is at play, to date we have not read or head any collective initiatives between South Arica and the rest of Africa.

If the above scenario is really what is obtaining, then Africa is already divided, as is always the case.

Cop 17 is supposed to unite Africa, but that opportunity is going to be sadly missed because of the existing negotiating blocks consisting of the rich and developed countries, the Brics and the Basics (largely made up of poor and developing countries).

How then is South Africa going to fuse with Team Africa?

The other problem is that Africa is made to see climate change problems through the eyes of the developed countries. Above all, Africa is vulnerable both in co-existence and economically.


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