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Public hearings on SA’s climate change talks begin

Climate change negotiations were to be concluded in 2009 but that no agreement was reached.

FILE. The Department of Environmental Affairs’ Maesela Kekana says climate change negotiations were to be concluded in 2009 but that no agreement was reached. Picture: Aletta Gardner/EWN

CAPE TOWN - Two days of public hearings have kicked off on South Africa's submission to the Conference of Parties (COP21) Climate Change Talks in December.

Twenty five organisations, ranging from environmental action groups to academic institutions, are due to make submissions.

The Department of Environmental Affairs' Maesela Kekana says climate change negotiations were to be concluded in 2009 but that no agreement was reached.

He says it's make or break when country representatives gather in Paris in December for COP21.

"2015 is very crucial. This Conference of Parties , is not like any other Conference of Parties. This is where an agreement has to be reached; an agreement that will bind everyone."

South Africa's pledged to reduce its Greenhouse gas emissions over the next 10 years, but there are differences as to how to achieve this.

Meanwhile, environmental action groups have questioned South Africa's commitment to oil, gas and coal-powered energy as government pledges to substantially reduce carbon emissions.

They're among the 25 organisations giving government feedback on its proposed offering at the COP21 climate change negotiations in Paris later this year.

Desmond d'Sa of the South Durban Community Environmental Alliance says poor communities bear the brunt of the impact of climate change.

"The United Nations (UN) conference for many years has been dominated by the polluters. I do not believe that there is going to be real solutions that are going to improve people's lives. That's what we need at the Paris conference.'

He says while South Africa's been involved in global climate change talks since the start, there's little to show for it.

"We have not won anything in the 20 years of the UN conferences, except poor people who are being affected the worst continue to be affected by the crisis that's not of their doing."