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Rich nations must help poor states cut emissions: minister

South Africa’s environment minister on Monday called on rich nations to help poor countries reduce greenhouse gas emissions, ahead of UN climate talks in Durban in November.

“This call is for the developed countries to increase their commitments toward carbon emission reductions,” Edna Molewa said during a national climate change meeting.

South Africa is preparing to host the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change from November 28 to December 9, a meeting known as COP 17.

That meeting will focus on the future of the Kyoto Protocol, the world’s only treaty that mandates emission cuts. Kyoto’s obligations expire at the end of 2012, and the Durban meeting is seen as the last chance to make new commitments before then.

“We want to come out of the COP 17 saying that we have demonstrated our commitment, the will and capacity of our country and our people, as well as corporates, to lead a change revolution against climate change,” Molewa said, according to Sapa news agency.

“If we do not act against climate change, and also ensure that the parties reach agreements that will take us a step forward in the reduction of global carbon emissions, our development is at stake.”

The future of the Kyoto Protocol is uncertain because China and the United States, the world’s top two polluters, are not subject to its constraints.

Japan, Canada and Russia have all rejected a new round of carbon-cutting commitments, and the United States and the European Union have already said there is zero chance of reaching a binding emissions deal in Durban.

UN-backed scientists have warned that the world will face growing disasters including droughts, floods and severe storms unless industry curbs carbon emissions that are believed to be causing temperatures to rise.