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South African minister is nominated for UN post

South African minister is nominated for UN post

JOHANNESBURG — The South African president's office announced the nomination of its tourism minister for the United Nations' top climate post on Monday.

The office said in a press release that Marthinus van Schalkwyk is a candidate to direct the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change. The current leader of the post, Yvo de Boer, announced his resignation in February and will step down July 1.

Van Schalkwyk was South Africa's former minister for environmental affairs and tourism and is well-regarded in climate change circles. He has a reputation as an effective bridge-builder in a process that often pits developing against industrially advanced countries.

"We are pleased to know Minister Van Schalkwyk is being considered and would be very confident that he would be equal to the task of replacing Mr. de Boer," said Themba Linden, Political Advisor at Greenpeace Africa. "By all accounts, he has an excellent standing as a negotiator, and has earned a great deal of respect for being very engaged and informed."

Van Schalkwyk's chances of being appointed are bolstered by the high likelihood that South Africa will host the U.N.'s climate change negotiations in 2011.

South Africa along with the U.S., India, Brazil and China drafted the climate change agreement reached in Denmark in December. The compromise calls for reducing emissions to keep temperatures from rising more than 2 C (3.6 F) above preindustrial levels. The nonbinding agreement also calls on rich nations to spend billions to help poor nations deal with drought and other impacts of climate change, and to develop clean energy.

Even though it helped draft the accord, South Africa joined a chorus of critics, expressing disappointment at not reaching a legally binding climate change agreement.

Copyright © 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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