Brief Background and Constitutional Justification of attending the Paris United Nations Climate Change Conference.
Mr. Speaker Sir, our attendance of COP 21 was principally motivated by the need to enhance the oversight role of Parliament as envisioned in section 327 (2) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe which provides that ''An international treaty which has been concluded or executed by the President or under the President's authority-
(a) Does not bind Zimbabwe until it has been approved by Parliament; and
(b) Does not form part of the law of Zimbabwe unless it has been incorporated into the law through an Act of Parliament, Standing Order 20(e) of the National Assembly, which enjoys constitutional recognition by virtue of Section 139 of the supreme law, makes it clear in peremptory terms that a Portfolio Committee must "consider or deal with all international treaties, conventions, and agreements relevant to it, which are from time to time negotiated, entered into or agreed.
Mr Speaker Sir, our attendance of the Paris Climate Change Conference was further actuated by the need to enhance the competence of Committee Members in understanding the technical and policy imperatives relating to multilateral environmental negotiations and agreements. This is instructive in view of the fact that Zimbabwe is State Party to United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change which has 195 State Parties, making it the largest membership based agreement of the United Nations. The other objective was for the Committee to understand he geo-politics and geo-dynamics of climate change negotiations and how legislative activism and interventions can be deployed to help address the challenges posed by climate change.
Mr. Speaker Sir, climate change is one of the world's most topical issues that is central to contemporary debate on socio-economic development and international relations. Thus, our participation of MP's was further meant to sharpen our skills in understanding strategic issues relating to climate change. Such competencies will come in handy when Zimbabwe in general and Parliament in particular considers the approval for the ratification and implementation of the Paris Agreement as well as the Doha Amendment to the Kyoto Protocol.
2.1 Methodology and Operational Strategy
Mr. Speaker Sir, I wish to point out that all the delegates from Parliament were registered by the National Focal Point as State Parties. This enabled us to have unrestricted access to all meetings and events, particularly to the meetings of COP21 that were being convened under the Conference of the Meetings of Parties ( CMP), Meetings of the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA), meetings of the Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI) and the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action (ADP). Thus, for logistical arrangements and greater coverage of the concurrent meetings, we had to split ourselves into various teams. In order to enhance the objective acquisition and mobilisation of relevant facts and information, the delegation was briefed by the then Head of Negotiating Team for Zimbabwe, Mr. Washington Zhakata who himself is a seasoned negotiator and climatologist.
3.0 Key Outcomes of the Paris United Nations Climate Change Conference
Mr. Speaker Sir, I am pleased to highlight that COP 21 delivered a historic Paris Climate Change Agreement that ·will ultimately supersede and replace the he Kyoto Protocol that was concluded in 1997· In a summative form, it is important to note that since the conclusion of Kyoto protocol. controversies arose over certain points of the Protocol and State Parties continued to negotiate on these in subsequent years 1,1p to the adoption of the Pads Agreement. The landmark Paris Agreement has far reaching repercussions on the development trajectory of this country as well as that of other nations. The Paris Agreement, if fully implemented in its letter and spirit, will put the world firmly on track to a low-carbon neutral and sustainable future that will keep a global temperature rise under 2 degrees Celsius. This will avert the most catastrophic impacts arising from the ruinous effects of climate change.
In its preamble, the Agreement ident1fies climate change as "an urgent and potentially irreversible threat to human societies and the planet". This is principally because climate change has calamitous impacts on the human and other life forms as well global environmental and climatic systems. As you may be aware, climate change is associated ·with extreme weather events such as unprecedented and unpredictable droughts and flood cycles. The increasing periodicity of droughts in this country evince how disruptive climate change can be to drivers of socio-economic development. Agriculture, which is the spinal cord of our economy, is fundamentally rain-fed and any negative deviation in rainfall patterns is likely to impugn efforts by the State to rejuvenate the economy through agriculture. In view of the foregoing, I now move to how the negotiating process was conducted up to the time a Paris Agreement was adopted.