Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Kenya PM says blame game may derail climate deal

Prime Minister Raila Odinga and the Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden arrive for a climate change conference at the Hotel Intercontinental on November 11, 2009. Mr Odinga said the blame game between developed and developing countries on climate change will worsen the situation further. Photo/HEZRON NJOROGE

Prime Minister Raila Odinga and the Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden arrive for a climate change conference at the Hotel Intercontinental on November 11, 2009. Mr Odinga said the blame game between developed and developing countries on climate change will worsen the situation further. Photo/HEZRON NJOROGE 

By DAVE OPIYO

The anticipated climate change deal hangs in the balance unless countries dialogue on the necessary measures to address the issue.

Prime Minister Raila Odinga said Wednesday that time had come for countries to agree that the planet's future depended on the global commitment ‘to permanently reduce greenhouse gas emissions.’

The PM said the blame game between the developed and developing countries on who should be doing what to combat climate change will only expose the planet further to this problem.

“The survival of the planet as we know it as at risk. The future of human civilisation is at stake,” said the PM in Nairobi.

“Blaming each other will not help. We must change. This is one of those moments when neither failure, nor surrender is an option.”

He spoke in Nairobi moments after attending a Climate Change; Common Challenge conference at the Hotel Intercontinental.

The meeting was attended by among others, Her Royal Highness the Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden and Unep’s deputy Executive director Ms Angela Cropper.

With only 23 days remaining to the conference in Copenhagen, Denmark, Mr Odinga, who will be leading Kenya delegation to the conference, said Africa must remain united if it was to benefit from the deal.

But he revealed that Kenya will not be waiting for help in Copenhagen but will make use of its abundant resources to help it ‘stem the tide of climate change.’

This, he said, will include the massive process to restore the country’s water towers and harnessing Kenya’s potential in developing ‘green’ energy.

Nominated MP Rachel Shebesh, who was one of the speakers, said the negotiation process leading to the legally binding climate deal was a ‘matter of life and death’ to the continent.

“We must have a positive deal in Copenhagen or else it will be doom and gloom in the continent. That will not be good for us,” she said.

The nominated MP said all that was required was the political goodwill to enable the deal to be realised and asked world leaders to give it.

“I am glad that Kenya has already given it. That is why we are seeing the process to restore the Mau Forest has commenced. Other countries should follow.”

Her sentiments were echoed by Swedish Ambassador Ms Ann Dismorr, who stressed the need take quick action to combat the negative effects of climate change.

“If we don’t do so, the impact to the society will be devastating. Both developed and developing countries need to act to stem this problem,” he said.

She said addressing climate change will require huge investments in technology, which could amount to 100 billion Euros by 2020.

The envoy said the EU had already implemented legislation that will reduce emissions by 20 percent in 2020 and was willing to go down further to 30 percent provided that other developed countries made comparable efforts.

“The EU has placed its bid, others must follow,” she added.

Ms Cropper, quoting the Fourth Assessment Report of the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), said climate change will threaten economic growth and long-term prosperity, as well as survival of the most vulnerable populations, most of who live in developing countries.

IPCC projects that if emissions continue to rise at their current pace and are allowed to double from pre-industrial levels, the world will face an average temperature rise of 3°C this century.

“It will affect various sectors of developing countries economies. For instance in Kenya, adverse drought indeed affected agriculture and tourism sectors. That is why we are calling for urgent action to combat climate change.”

 

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