Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Africa proposes rescue plan for climate deal

Protestors hold signboards during a demonstration in Copenhagen December 16, 2009. Copenhagen is the host city for the United Nations Climate Change Conference 2009, which lasts from December 7 until December 18. REUTERS

Protestors hold signboards during a demonstration in Copenhagen December 16, 2009. Copenhagen is the host city for the United Nations Climate Change Conference 2009, which lasts from December 7 until December 18. REUTERS 

By ARGAW ASHINE, NATION Correspondent, Copenhagen Denmark

Ethiopian Prime Minister and head of African delegation Meles Zenawi, in partnership with France, has moved to a last-minute rescue plan to reach global climate deal as the ongoing negotiation faces uncertainties.

According to African Union sources, Meles has so far secured US and EU backing. However, he is facing sharp criticism from international environment activist groups.

Meles proposal came out on Tuesday after the ongoing Copenhagen climate change negotiation was unable to reach a legally binding agreement.

Meles told reporters his proposal is a political agreement rather than a legally binding deal based on United Nation Bali roadmap which was drawn in 2007 in Bali, Indonesia.

The proposal demands the halving of global CO2 emissions by 2050 compared to 1990 levels and ambitious agreement in Copenhagen limiting the increase of temperatures to 2°C above preindustrial levels.

Meles proposed for the creation of a tax on international financial transactions and consider other sources such as taxes on sea freight or air transport.

The new African proposal is also urging the adoption of a “fast-start” fund of 30 billion dollars for the next 3 years. The funding will be dedicated to adaptation and mitigation actions, including the fight against deforestation, in developing countries.

According to the proposed document called “Copenhagen accord” predictable and additional finance must be made available from 2013 and on.

Those mechanisms will mainly be dedicated to actions in poor and vulnerable countries, particularly in Africa, least developed countries, small island states and other developing countries with a low per-capita income.

Long-term financing needs for mitigation and adaptation in developing countries are estimated, at least, at 50 billion euros by 2015 and 100 billion euros by 2020.

United States, Britain and France backs the proposal and it would be discussed between world leaders gathered here in Copenhagen later this week.

The UK is backing Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi's proposals to assist African nations through predictable funding that will not detract from existing aid priorities, and a global tax to raise funds.

On Tuesday Meles had been in Paris, France and had a working lunch with France president Nicholas Sarkozy to seek European support for Africa’s pertaining demands.

On Monday, Meles received a phone call from US president Barack Obama and they discussed the proposal.

Obama told Meles to expect US support for a positive outcome from Copenhagen.

According to a White House press statement, Obama expressed his appreciation for the leadership role the Prime Minister was playing in working with African countries on climate change, and urged him to help reach agreement at the Leaders summit later this week in Copenhagen.

Ethiopian prime minister Meles Zenawi also met his UK counterpart Gordon Brown in Downing Street office to seek EU backing for his new proposal.

Despite the ongoing effort to rescue the Copenhagen deal, environmental activists sharply criticised Meles diverting his responsibility out of African common position.

“We call on Prime minister Meles Zenawi to rescind the appeal or to step down as Coordinator of African Heads of State and Governments on Climate Change” said Mithika Mwenda of Pan-African Climate Justice Alliance, a group of activists across Africa.

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