Johannesburg: Hailing the deal reached at the Durban climate conference as "historic", host South Africa today said that pressing the participating countries too hard on emission cuts would have been a "recipe for failure".
Amid criticism that South African government lacked urgency and a strategy to clinch a deal during the 14-day meet, the head of the South African delegation Edna Molewa described the final outcome as "precedent setting," adding that it compares in achievement to the landmark 1997 conference at which the Kyoto Protocol was adopted.
Molewa, who is South Africa`s Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs, told reporters that trying to force countries to do more than they are willing and able to do could have killed not only the Kyoto Protocol, but the entire UN effort to fight climate change.
"Forcing countries to do more than they were willing or able to was a recipe for failure," she said, adding that the solution was to build a system that gradually transitions to a low carbon future and simultaneously creates jobs, reduces poverty and improves quality of life.
"The outcome of COP17 is a historic achievement that will go a long way in furthering the global climate agenda," Molewa said, pointing out that the agreement sets a new long-term pathway for the development of a "fair" and "legally-binding" system that would balance climate and development imperatives.
The climate conference that stretched into overtime amid hectic negotiations and wrangling agreed to extend the industrialised nations` commitments under the Kyoto Protocol, while also agreeing to negotiate a treaty that would for the first time bring all major emitters, including India and China, under a legal mechanism to cut emissions.
The agreement also ensures the fair participation of all countries in the global effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions now and in the future, Molewa said.
The climate change conference was characterised by a new willingness by parties to move beyond entrenched negotiating positions, she noted.
COP17 also ensured the survival of the Kyoto Protocol through the decision to adopt the second commitment period, capturing legally binding commitments of the developed countries beyond the first commitment period expiration of 2012, she was quoted as saying by BuaNews.
"Under the convention, we anchored emission reduction targets for developed countries that are not willing to be part of the Kyoto second commitment period, as well as emission mitigation actions of developing countries and were able to elaborate the transparency and accountability framework for both developed and developing countries," she said.