Parliament, Wednesday, 29 November 2023 – The Speaker of the National Assembly (NA), Ms Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, will lead a multi-party parliamentary delegation to the 28th Conference of the Parties (COP) that will be held from 30 November to 12 December at Expo City Dubai in the United Arab Emirates.

The Conference of the Parties (COP) is the main decision-making body of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). It provides an important platform for countries to deliberate on how to address the climate crisis.

Among the top priorities of COP28 is to take stock of progress made on targets set and agreed upon by nearly 200 countries in the Paris Agreement in 2015. One of these targets is limiting global warming to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels. These targets are essential to prevent the most severe consequences of climate change, such as extreme weather conditions, rising sea levels, loss of biodiversity, food shortages, and health risks.

Also, among the key priorities is encouraging countries to set more ambitious emissions reduction targets and to take stronger actions to implement their national climate plans. Another key theme at COP28, especially for developing countries, is financial and technical assistance to help them address climate change.

Other key focus areas of COP28, include fostering better collaboration among various stakeholders, including civil society, businesses, local governments, and indigenous peoples. Another issue of focus is how to ensure that the transition to a low-carbon and resilient future is fair and equitable and that vulnerable countries are supported to develop sustainably and inclusively.

This year’s conference will also strengthen parliamentary involvement in climate change policy and action.

South Africa is a party to both the UNFCCC and its Kyoto Protocol, having acceded to the Convention in 1997 and ratified the Kyoto Protocol in 2002. Since then, South Africa has consistently participated in the Conference of the Parties (COP) to UNFCCC and contributed to global efforts to reduce their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions that cause global warming.

South Africa has consistently demonstrated its commitment to contribute meaningfully to international efforts aimed at mitigating the impacts of climate change. In 2010, the country emerged as one of the early adopters among emerging economies and developing nations, pledging voluntary emissions reductions for 2020 under the Copenhagen Accord. In the following year, South Africa played a pivotal role by hosting the 17th Conference of the Parties (COP17), where the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action was launched.

In 2022 and 2023 South Africa experienced severe rains, storms and catastrophic floods in the provinces of KwaZulu-Natal, Eastern Cape, Gauteng, Limpopo, Mpumalanga and North West which brought about widespread destruction, causing hundreds of fatalities, displacing over 40 000 people, and damaging critical infrastructure, including roads, bridges, and power lines. The floods also affected agriculture with extensive crop damage and losses to livestock.

Parliament is currently processing the Climate Change Bill, which is key to coordinating climate action and support in the country. The Climate Change Bill is the first piece of legislation in South Africa specifically aimed at mitigating and addressing the effects of climate change.

The country is also working towards an effective climate change response and a long-term, just transition to a low-carbon and climate-resilient economy and society. On the 24th of October 2023, the National Assembly adopted the Climate Change Bill. The Bill, which received great support during public hearings, is now in the National Council of Provinces and the hope is to finalise the Bill before the end of the sixth Parliament.

COP28 presents a critical opportunity for parliamentarians to demonstrate their leadership and responsibility in addressing the climate crisis. By taking strong and coordinated action at the national and global levels, they can help ensure a safer and more prosperous future for all.

The South African parliamentary delegation will form part of the country’s delegation, led by the Minister of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment, Ms Barbara Creecy.

The Speaker will be accompanied by Mr Cedric Frolick, the House Chairperson responsible for Committees and ICT in the National Assembly, Mr Jomo Nyambi, the House Chairperson responsible for Committees in the National Council of Provinces (NCOP), Ms Pemmy Majodina, the Chief Whip of the majority party in the National Assembly, Mr Seiso Mohai, the Chief Whip in the National Council of Provinces, Ms Nqabisa Gantsho (ANC MP in the NA), Ms Tebogo Modise (Chairperson of Select Committee on Land Reform, Environment, Mineral Resources & Energy in the NCOP), Mr David Bryant (Democratic Alliance MP in the NA), and Mr Mlindi Nhanha (Democratic Alliance MP in the NCOP.

The Speaker and some MPs will also participate in a parliamentary meeting that will be hosted by the Inter-Parliamentary Union and the Federal National Council of UAE. Some members of the delegation will also participate as moderators, facilitators, and speakers in various events during the two-week conference.


ISSUED BY THE PARLIAMENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF SOUTH AFRICA

Enquiries: Mr Moloto Mothapo