Climate change speaker ready to turn up heat
MAESELA Kekana doesn’t like coffee. But as South Africa’s chief negotiator at the Bonn climate change talks, he knows he’s going to be drinking a lot of it.
“Man, we work long hours,” he said, speaking by phone from Germany yesterday. “Sometimes, you work three days non-stop. There are no weekends, it’s just work. And lots of coffee. I don’t like coffee but I have to drink it.”
Still, Kekana would not be anywhere else. “I love my job, representing my country and my people and making sure we have a fair outcome at the talks.
“What I don’t like is people who say something, but mean something different.”
As South Africa’s lead negotiator at the 23rd UN Framework Convention on Climate Change Conference of Parties (COP23), which kicked off this week, Kekana and his colleagues know they have their work cut out.
“We’ve had five days of intense preparations in Bonn before (this week’s) sessions started. We have to transition now to text-based negotiations and we’re hoping by the end we’ll have actual text.”
Last week, the UN stated that countries “were not doing enough to save hundreds of millions from a miserable future” with a temperature increase of 3ºC looking “very likely” by 2100.
National pledges, it said, only brought a third of the reduction in emissions required by 2030 to meet climate targets, with private sector and sub-national action “not increasing at a rate that would help close this worrying gap”, and pledges needed to be stronger when revised in 2020.
Kekana explained that the annual talks were expected to advance work on the implementation guidelines for the Paris Agreement.
“The real difference with this COP is, having agreed on the political consensus in Paris in 2015, we now have to move towards implementation, and this COP is tasked with these implementation guidelines – what should be done, when and by whom, and who will be supported by whom, so this is the real stuff. It will frame what our next set of contributions will look like.”
The talks are expected to discuss loss and damage from climate change, finance, technology and capacity-building for developing countries.
“It’s difficult for developing countries to do meaningful implementation of climate change actions without support,” says Kekana.
“As South Africa, we still have some room to develop and we want to develop in a cleaner way. That’s where we’re trying to find each other, so we don’t repeat the mistakes that have been made.
“We want to secure support so we can do more, and that’s in essence what these talks are about.”