Within the United Nations Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), South Africa is a Non-Annex I country (developing country) and a signatory to the Kyoto Protocol. South Africa has ratified the Kyoto Protocol on 31.7.2002, but, as a developing country does not have targets under the protocol.
The EU-South African relationship has significantly developed since the end of the Apartheid. A comprehensive political partnership exists, of which one important pillar is the Trade, Development and Co-operation Agreement. The South African Government and the European Commission have also agreed to work together to combat climate change. Both partners recognize the fundamental role of science and technology innovation for development and are committed to closer cooperation in this regard. The good co-operation between South Africa and Europe was a key success factor of the 2011 UNFCCC Conference of Parties in Durban, South Africa.
The two sides hold regular talks on climate change, not only in the framework of UNFCCC but also on Minister/Commissioner-level. Domestically, South Africa is a significant per capita emitter of greenhouse gases, mainly due to a substantial coal-industry. To counter-act this, the country wants its greenhouse gas emissions to peak between 2020 and 2025, plateau for approximately a decade, and decline in absolute terms thereafter. In the 2011 South African National Climate Change Response White Paper and other sectoral strategies, it is foreseen to curb greenhouse gas emissions by 34% by 2020 and 42% by 2025 below the business-as-usual scenario, subject to the provision of international support. The South African climate change planning is among the most advanced and ambitious on the continent, and of continuous great importance for the UNFCCC negotiations.
The South African Minister of Environmental Affairs is a Member of the African Environment Ministers Conference (AMCEN), with which the European Commission holds a separate, regular dialogue on climate change.