- Development & Aid
- Economy & Trade
- Human Rights
- Global Governance
- Civil Society
Tuesday, June 2, 2020
WINDHOEK, Nov 2 2009 (IPS) - The global climate change caravan has arrived in Barcelona for a last round of talks before the Copenhagen summit. What’s at stake for Africa?
“I hold my fingers crossed, but to be realistic I don’t see major things happening in Barcelona this week,” Peter Acquah, secretary of the African Ministerial Conference on the Environment (AMCEN), told IPS from Nairobi.
AMCEN met last week in Addis Ababa for a final conclave before African negotiators meet their counterparts from the rest of the world at the 15th Conference of Parties in the Danish capital on Dec. 7-18.
The result of the talks in the Ethiopian capital was an unambiguous “No” to the present draft for a replacement of the Kyoto Protocol by a new climate agreement in Copenhagen.
Developing nations – jointly negotiating under the umbrella of the G77 plus China – are building up the pressure on the road to Copenhagen by playing their cards close to their chest.
“Of course rapid movement becomes all of a sudden possible if the Annex I countries are willing to put some numbers on the table in Barcelona that go past the current proposed cuts in emissions,” Acquah acknowledged. “And if they come up with a realistic figure to finance the deal.”
Africa’s interpretation of the “common but differentiated responsibilities” of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) is a reduction of emissions by 40 percent compared to 1990 levels by the industrialised world (the Annex I countries of the Kyoto Protocol – see sidebar) by 2020, a reduction of 95 percent by 2050 and a cash injection of 1.5 percent of GDP from developed nations to compensate for the effects of climate change in the developing world.
“Africa, as the most vulnerable continent, deserves the right to full support to adapt to climate change. Africa has also contributed the least to the global greenhouse gas emissions yet its communities stand to suffer the most,” said AMCEN in a statement this week.
“The window of opportunity here is finite though. If global warming reaches the two degree Celsius threshold, the costs will increase dramatically and adaptation will become much less feasible. This is also why it is imperative that developed nations further reduce greenhouse gasses.”
Linda Fairhurst, Adaptation to Climate Change programme coordinator Africa for ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability recently told IPS that climate change is likely to have a devastating effect on the continent. “We are looking at serious consequences for water provision and sanitation, livelihoods, transport and energy.”
Fairhurst warned that low-lying settlements like the town of Walvis Bay in Namibia, the city of Maputo in Mozambique or Tanzania’s Dar es Salaam are seriously threatened by rising seas levels.
In August AMCEN put the cost of fighting climate change at $67 billion a year for Africa alone.
“But it’s not just about the money,” said Acquah. “It follows from the Kyoto Protocol that Africa should be provided with the means to adapt to climate change. This includes the transfer of green technology and there is little movement on that front. In Bangkok we booked no progress in the field of intellectual property rights.”
Emissions in Africa are a modest 3.7 percent of global CO2 output, mostly caused by deforestation, gas flaring and coal-fired power generation in a handful of countries. One of the main expectations for Copenhagen is that a deal will be reached on Reducing Emissions Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD), which should see billions flowing into the continent to preserve rainforests and plant trees.
This money is badly needed for adaptation. A recent study by UK scientists published in the Oxford Review suggests that “the impact of climate change on Africa is likely to be severe because of adverse direct effects, high agricultural dependence, and limited capacity to adapt… Adaptation will be impeded by Africa’s fragmentation into small countries and ethnic groups, and by poor business environments.”
The International Food Policy Research Institute recently predicted wheat yields on the continent will down be 30 percent in 2050, while prices will almost double due to climate change.
“If we don’t agree on an ambitious and binding treaty we will be remembered as the generation which spent billions on credit cards, spread environmental vandalism and did nothing to confront the most intractable problem of our times,” Kim Carstensen, chief of the WWF Global Climate Initiative, fumed on the eve of the Barcelona talks. “I am sure none of the leaders would want to be remembered this way.”
But one of the major questions in the negotiations is who will commit first and to how much. The EU is willing to go to a 30 percent cap on emissions from 1990 levels by 2020, but only if developed nations will cut emissions their emissions as well.
Largest polluter China has promised to cut CO2 by a “notable margin” from 2005 levels, but demands a 40 percent cut by developed countries in return. In the U.S., a law is proposed that would cut emissions to roughly seven percent of their 1990 levels, but it’s likely the bill will be torpedoed in Congress.
African countries, meanwhile are keen to maintain a firewall between mandatory commitments made by industrialised countries and those demanded of the developing world, which they insist should be voluntary.
“Mitigation actions for Africa should be voluntary and nationally appropriate and must be fully supported and enabled by technology transfer, finance and capacity building from developed Countries,” stated AMCEN last week.
The fundamental problem is that AMCEN and the G77 include China, India, Brazil and South Africa, the emitters of tomorrow. Developed nations are adamant these big emerging economies should also commit to mandatory cuts.
IPS is an international communication institution with a global news agency at its core,
raising the voices of the South
and civil society on issues of development, globalisation, human rights and the environment
Copyright © 2020 IPS-Inter Press Service. All rights reserved. - Terms & Conditions
You have the Power to Make a Difference
Would you consider a $20.00 contribution today that will help to keep the IPS news wire active? Your contribution will make a huge difference.