Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Honour climate change pledges, Kenya urges

Activists carry a banner during a rally in Doha on December 1, 2012 to demand urgent action addressing climate change as the United Nations Convention on Climate Change continues in the Qatari capital.

Activists carry a banner during a rally in Doha on December 1, 2012 to demand urgent action addressing climate change as the United Nations Convention on Climate Change continues in the Qatari capital. Kenya has urged developed countries to honour their financial commitments to poor countries to help reverse the negative effects of climate change December 3, 2012  AFP

By DAVE OPIYO dopiyo@ke.nationmedia.co.ke in Doha, Qatar

Kenya has urged developed countries to honour their financial commitments to poor countries to help reverse the negative effects of climate change.

Environment permanent secretary Mohammed Ali in an interview with the Nation Monday said developed countries had two years ago in Copenhagen, Denmark pledged to disburse a Fast Start Finance of $30 billion between the years 2010 and 2012 to their developing counterparts.

The funds were meant to encourage poor countries take immediate action on climate change and to help them in adaptation and mitigation efforts.

Further, the rich countries also pledged to raise $100 billion a year by 2020, under the green climate fund launched in Durban South Africa last year, for the same purposes.

“Our concerns from the developing world and Kenya in particular is what happens between December 2012 and January 2020," said Mr Ali.

|The reality of climate change affecting our development options cannot be overstated. We will continue pushing the developed world to make provisions for a midterm financial mechanism.

"For us climate change is a survival issue. We cannot waste time in conferences without action," he said.

Dismay

Last week, lobby groups from Africa raised a similar concern, expressing dismay at claims by developed countries that they had successfully delivered all their pledges under the First Start Finance.

According to the groups, Australia, Canada, Japan, Liechtenstein, New Zealand, Norway, Switzerland, US as well as the EU had announced that they had delivered the $30 billion and even exceeded it by $3 billion.

Mithika Mwenda, the coordinator of the Pan African Climate Justice Alliance said only $23.6 billion of the amount promised had been delivered, most of them in loans but not grants.

"This is totally unacceptable and it demonstrates lack of integrity in the negotiations, thereby promoting mistrusts in the already fragile multilateral negotiations…Where are the billions mentioned suddenly come from?” posed Mr Mwenda.

The PS says even though there has not been much progress in the talks, he hoped with the expiry of the first commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol at the end of the year, countries that had ratified the protocol will ensure that they put in place mechanisms for the implementation of the second phase that has been scheduled to commence on January 1.

"Our expectation is that countries that had committed themselves to the Kyoto Protocol will have to put mechanisms in place to ensure that the second commitment period , which is expected to begin in January next year goes on smoothly,” he said in an interview with the Nation.

"We have already received assurances that mechanisms will be in place for this second commitment period will commence in time."

On Monday, lobby groups said the UN Climate talks remained blocked by the US and EU and other rich industrialised countries as they refused to discuss finance commitments, leading to an "empty page" proposal on the issue in a draft text circulating at the conference.

Broken promises

Fiery negotiations continued after the Chair of the talks proposed a draft-text that included a blank, white page under the heading "finance" reflecting the push by rich industrialised countries to block progress on the issue.

"The empty-white page matches the climate finance pledges of developed countries under the UN climate convention. An empty shell. A big zero." Chee Yoke Ling, director of the Third World Network, a Malaysian based NGO said.

"Several independent studies have shown that the previous round of climate finance promises weren't met. Previous promises were not entirely "new" nor "additional" to existing foreign aid and they did not meet the agreed level." Brandon Wu, climate campaigner at Action Aid said.

"Those broken promises threaten to break the talks. If the US and others continue to refuse an agreement on new levels, on transparency and on sources then developing countries should consider walking away from the table completely." Mr Wu said.

Observers of the talks were also concerned that the future of the Green Climate Fund, a once-promising light in the negotiations, was now fading.

"Currently the Green Climate Fund stands empty of public dollars, with developed countries threatening to starve the Fund unless the private sector can have unfettered access." Janet Redman, a senior policy analyst at the US based thinktank the Institute for Policy Studies, said.

"The Green Climate Fund, arguably the most significant concrete outcome from the 2011 Durban conference, was meant for the people who are most impacted by climate change, not big business or Wall Street."  Ms Redman, said.

"Developed countries must fulfill their promise to fill the Fund.” Ms Redman, said.

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