Sunday, September 27, 2009

African Union officials decide on strategy for upcoming climate change talks Africa: Walk Out of Climate Talks Possible If Views Ignored Africa: Continent Puts Price On Climate Adaptation Aid

The Age: Stumbling to Copenhagen

Trinidad and Tobago Express: The Copenhagen Challenge A Bad Climate for Development

African Union (AU) officials have recently concluded a meeting of the Conference of Africa Heads of States and Government on Climate Change in Addis Ababa. This meeting linked action on climate change to development investment in their continent. These ministers see the Copenhagen talks on climate change in December as a global platform to press their issues. Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, who is leading the African climate negotiators, has outlined a two-prong negotiating approach. They will first argue that climate change must be contained, and secondly that Africa needs considerable economic help to deal with the impacts of climate change. Reports have suggested a myriad of impacts for Africa; increased diseases such as malaria, desertification of farmland, and disruption to the tourism industry.

African nations feel they are among the most vulnerable to economic disruption from climate change, and the least culpable for the release of greenhouse gases that have caused it. Citing principles of equity, the AU position paper outlines an aggressive reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. It targets 40% below 1990 levels before 2020, and 80% below 1990 levels by 2050.

The ministers have also agreed on a financial sum to compensate Africa for the impacts of climate change. Their plan would allocate the money to individual African countries to complete their own national plans of action. The package would cost an estimated $67 billion, and be paid for by developed nations such as the United States and members of the EU. This is the equivalent of .5% of these nations’ GDP to be targeted for developing nations. They stress that this amount is not a cash payment, and is focused on technology transfers and capacity building projects. The AU's director of rural economy and agriculture, Abebe Haile Gabriel says, “The continent's position is not that of demanding cash tokens but massive investment in ways to help the countries use technologies.” These technologies include clean and renewable energy development, energy-efficiency, and low carbon programs.

The lack of money being offered by developed nations is disturbing to the African nations. The current plan offers $21 billion. This is far below the target that these African leaders have agreed on. Closer to their goal is a plan by British Prime Minster Gordon Brown for $100 billion. However, this program would not begin until 2020 and would take its money from a wide group of funds both private and publicly raised from the sale of emission permits. Finding a common ground on financial development will be key not just for the success of the climate talks in Copenhagen, but for battling global warming.

Discussion Questions:

1) What are other development implications of the success or failure of the Copenhagen climate talks?

2) How can climate-related development programs help both the developed and developing countries?

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