Thursday, October 8, 2009

Climate change: Africa fund vital

By NATION Reporter

The creation of a special Africa fund is critical if the continent is to adapt to the negative effects of climate change, a Kenya environmentalist said Thursday.

The country’s National Environmental Management Authority director Dr Muusya Mwinzi said the continent was likely to lose out greatly if it didn’t push for the creation of this fund.

“This is the only golden opportunity for negotiators in the continent to speak with one voice and to push for the creation of this fund. If we loose this chance, then it will be a very long time for us to get such an opportunity," said Dr Mwinzi, who is attending the Climate Change talks in Bangkok, Thailand.

“If they don't push for it, they will simply miss out on the finances and by extension the technology that will aid them in curbing the negative effects of climate change.

"This will expose them to the negative effects of climate change that have already started hitting us.”

Government delegates are meeting in Bangkok, Thailand on the penultimate round of climate change negotiations ahead of the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen in December, at which a comprehensive international climate change deal is to be sealed.

Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva opened the two-week meeting that is expected to end on Friday.

The Bangkok Climate Change talks were preceded by the UN Climate Change Summit in New York on 22 September, convened by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, at which around 100 heads of state and government clearly called for a comprehensive climate change agreement in Copenhagen.

On Thursday, Dr Mwinzi told the Daily Nation that the country’s position on climate change had always remained the same; that rich countries must provide adequate financial resources for adaptation, mitigation, technology transfer and reduce deforestation.

“The should also commit themselves to deep emissions cuts by a certain amount for a certain period of time. They can never run away from their responsibilities.”

Lobby groups have been calling on the developed countries to set aside at least 140 billion dollars in annual public funding, to enable developing countries meet these challenges.

Of this amount, 50 billion dollars should be set aside to support mitigation efforts, an equal amount will also be used to support adaptation while the rest be reserved for halting deforestation.

Meanwhile, UN’s top climate chief Vyo De Boer said time was running out for a climate deal in Copenhagen.

“Time is running out .. let us now refocus our energies on the elements that will make the Copenhagen agreement work,” said Mr De Boer at a news conference.

The UN climate chief appeared to be responding to growing concerns over the slow pace the negotiations, expected to lead to the much anticipated new climate change deal in Copenhagen, Denmark, were being conducted.

With less than two weeks of negotiating time left before the Copenhagen meeting, there have been growing concerns that the Bangkok talks will achieve little.

And Thursday, the International Youth Delegation attending the talks added their voice to the growing pessimism, declaring a ‘No confidence in the road to Copenhagen.'

The youths cited the failure of reaching a commitment from developed countries on strong targets, a growing concern that a second commitment period in the Kyoto Protocol will not be secured, and a lack of guarantees for protection of Indigenous peoples’ rights and interests, in its Declaration.

They further said the current text of the draft climate deal was so weak and so full of “false solutions – measures like offsets that actually made the problem worse.”

Pressure has been mounting on developed countries to commit to providing finance and at least a 40 percent reduction in emissions by 2020.

“If they do not, we will witness the derailment of this climate deal in Copenhagen,” said Ms Grace Mwarua, a youth delegate from Kenya.

“My people are experiencing the severe effects of climate change,” said Anil Rimal from the Nepalese Youth Climate Action.

“This is happening now, not in 2050, and people are losing their lives, homes and livelihoods. We can not afford to delay global action.”

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