South Africa's Department of Environmental Affairs on Tuesday stated that the meeting of the Group of 77 (G77) countries, held in Beijing in China last week, represented a "sound starting point" for a coordinated approach of the countries at the forthcoming global climate change negotiations in Copenhagen.
Representatives from Brazil, China, India and South Africa, met in Beijing on November 27 and 28 along with Sudan, the current chair of the G77, to prepare for and contribute to a positive, ambitious and equitable outcome in Copenhagen.
The fifteenth conference of the parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) will start on December 7 in the Danish capital.
Discussion began on a substantive draft of a possible Copenhagen outcome reflecting on progress made in the two negotiation tracks in terms of the Bali Roadmap, namely negotiations under the UNFCCC and its Kyoto Protocol respectively.
"We are in agreement on major issues, including those relating to the establishment of a second commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol, as well as a shared vision for long-term cooperative action on climate change, mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions, adaptation to the impacts of climate change, and the provision of finance and technology to support and enable these actions, taking into account the special needs of the least developed countries, the small island developing states and African countries," said the Department in a statement.
Reaching a satisfactory and equitable agreement at Copenhagen has been deemed highly unlikely by many participants.
South Africa wanted an ambitious and legally binding two-track outcome from Copenhagen. One track was that developed countries take on ambitious targets for the second commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol, and the second was that developed nations comply with their convention obligations on adaptation, finance and technology.
African nations felt that the Kyoto Protocol should not be scrapped, as was suggested by some countries, but should rather be amended. Establishing an entirely new protocol to be ratified by numerous parliaments around the world could take a very long time, and Africa, which was already feeling the effects of climate change, could not waste time in adapting for a changing climate.
Most developed countries, most notably the US, have thus far not committed to reducing their emissions by 40% below 1990 levels by 2020, which was said to be what was required by science to keep average global temperature increases below 2 ºC.
Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao and US President Barack Obama have indicated that they would be present at the negotiations in Copenhagen. It was, as yet, unclear whether or not South African President Jacob Zuma would attend the conference.