Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Kenya MP says climate deal unlikely

Nominated MP Musikari Kombo has raised doubts that countries at the Copenhagen summit on climate change will strike a deal. Photo/FILE

Nominated MP Musikari Kombo has raised doubts that countries at the Copenhagen summit on climate change will strike a deal. Photo/FILE 

By DAVE OPIYO in Copenhagen, Denmark

The Copenhagen summit is unlikely to produce a legally binding agreement on tackling climate change, a Kenyan MP said Tuesday.

Nominated MP Musikari Kombo, a member of the Pan African Parliamentary Network for Climate Change, however, said it was only possible for the UN talks to conclude next week with a political agreement on the way forward.

“I don’t think the technical people (negotiators) are ready. The only feasible thing that will come out of the conference is a political agreement. The rest can be done at the next Conference of Parties to be held at Mexico,” he told the Nation in an interview.

The political agreement would set the platform that would facilitate an all embracing legal agreement setting up numbers, targets and financial obligation for parties.

The MP raised the doubts saying negotiators had little time left to iron out the thorny issues that were hampering the clinching of the deal likely to supplant the Kyoto protocol in 2012.

The protocol, which came into force in 2005 and ratified by 148 parties, places a heavy burden on industrialised countries.
It sets targets for reducing emissions of greenhouse gases, now accepted as the main cause of global warming.

Mr Kombo, who arrived at the Danish Capital Tuesday, was flanked by MPs: David Koech, Wilbur Otichilo and Erastus Mureithi, all of whom are members of the Pan African Parliamentary Network for Climate Change.

They were expected to be joined by Prof Margaret Kamar, the network’s Vice President.

Mr Kombo, however, said they will not relent their quest to have African negotiators speak with one voice at the summit.

"We are actually here to lobby and support our negotiators from the continent to speak with one voice. It is by doing so that we expect our pleas to be heard,” said the MP at the Bella Centre, the venue of the summit being attended by more than 15,000 participants from 192 countries.

"In the past, we have been negotiating separately…our voices were in the process drowned and nobody was taking us seriously. This time, things are very different. We shall ensure that we speak with one voice and that the issues we are demanding must be addressed.”

During Monday’s opening ceremony, Danish Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen announced that at least 110 heads of state will next week be attending the conference, perhaps setting the stage for the sealing of the political deal.
Reports indicate that President Kibaki is likely to attend next week’s high level meeting that is expected to thrash out the elements of a global deal on how to collectively tackle what is arguably the greatest threat the world has ever known – global warming.

The presidents and heads of governments are expected to endorse whatever decision their diplomats and ministers have agreed upon. Prime Minister Raila Odinga has also confirmed participation.

During a climate change summit held in Nairobi in October this year, the parliamentarians drew up a list of demands they wanted hammered out during the climate change talks.

According to their proposals, the legislators want rich countries to be compelled to provide adequate financial assistance to developing states to enable them access climate-friendly technologies that would assist them combat this problem.

And as such, they want the countries to set aside at least 1.5 per cent of their gross domestic product (GDP) per year to support Africa cope with the climate-related shocks.

According to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), 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.

This will lead to a rise in sea-level, shifts in seasons, and more frequent and intense extreme weather such as storms, floods and droughts.

Climate analyses indicate that, should this happen, Kenya will very likely be warmer by up to five degrees by 2100.

Droughts will continue, possibly becoming more severe while in other parts of the country, rains could become more intense, leading to floods.

The rise in sea level could affect Mombasa, with one study suggesting that 17 per cent of the island could be submerged by a rise in sea level of up to 30 centimetres.

According to proposals by climate change lobby groups, the continent requires at least $200 billion a year, in annual public funding, to adequately and effectively meet these challenges.

Kenya has already indicated that it requires at least $20 billion annually to enable it tackle the problem.

Environment minister John Michuki recently said the money will be used to boost projects in various sectors of the economy to assist the country beat the crisis.

The conference also resolved to press the industrialised countries to come up with "ambitious and binding" commitments to reduce their emissions as stipulated in the Kyoto Protocol.

Specifically, they want the countries to reduce their global emissions by at least 40 per cent below 1990 levels by 2020 and by between 80 and 95 per cent by 2050.

"This is in order to maintain the concentration of the atmospheric carbon dioxide below 450 parts per million and temperature below two degrees centigrade."

The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change binds rich countries to fund developing nations to help them adapt to and mitigate climate change.

"The financial resources required to address climate change should be new, additional, adequate, predictable, sustainable, and provided primarily in the form of grants," the leaders said in their resolutions.

Pressure has been mounting on the rich countries to demonstrate their willingness to not only put adequate funding on the table, but also assist developing countries accelerate the uptake of clean technology, reduce deforestation and embark on wide scale adaptation programmes.

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