Wednesday, December 16, 2009

African countries back funding proposals

By DAVE OPIYO in Copenhagen, Denmark

African negotiators have backed proposals to establish a 30 billion US dollar ‘start up fund’ to enable developing countries plan for ambitious programmes to tackle climate change over the next three years.

But the negotiators are however suggesting that 40 per cent of the funds be reserved for the continent, which has so far bore the greatest brunt of global warming, despite its little contribution.

These funds, they say, should be administered by the African Development Bank, under a board of trustees.

The proposals were read out by Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, on behalf of African countries, even as the high level summit of the ongoing climate change conference in Copenhagen, Denmark entered its second day.

More than 150 heads of state and government including President Kibaki are attending the talks that end of Friday.

Said Mr Zenawi; “I therefore ask for the immediate establishment of a committee of experts to work out the finer details on how this will be achieved.”

He went on; “We want to do so with a view to launching the fund by the time of the next G-20 summit to ensure that the funds are quickly disbursed thereafter.”

The Ethiopian PM said that in the long run, funding for adaptation and mitigation measures for developing countries will be scaled up. According to their proposals, this should take effect by 2013, where they expect funding to hit 50 billion dollars per annum and that it be increased to 100 billion per annum by 2020.

He said; “The UN climate change secretariat should mandate a commission of political leaders and experts to review all such funding mechanisms to achieve our targets and to submit its report within six months,” said Mr Zenawi.

Reports also indicate that the continent was rooting for countries to adopt an ambitious agreement limiting the increase in temperatures to 2 degrees above pre-industrial levels as had been recommended by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

But his proposals elicited sharp reactions from members of the African civil society attending the conference, who said it will spell doom for the future of the continent.

"The IPCC science is clear - 2 degrees is 3.5 degrees in Africa – this is death to millions of Africans” said Mithika Mwenda, the coordinator of the Pan-African Climate Justice Alliance.

"If Prime Minister Meles wants to sell out the lives and hopes of Africans for a pittance - he is welcome to - but that is not Africa's position" he added.
His sentiments were also echoed by his colleague Mr Augustine Njamnshi who said; "Every other African country has committed to policy based on the science. That means at least 45 percent cuts by rich countries by 2020 and it means 400 US billion US dollars fast-track finance not 10 billion dollars."

"You cannot say you are proposing a 'solution' to climate change if your solutions will see millions of Africans die and if the poor not the polluters keep paying for climate change," he added.

However, Mr Zenawi in an apparent response said he was aware that his proposals would ‘disappoint’ many who had had asked for the full compensation of the damage done to the continent’s development prospects.

“My proposal dramatically scales back our expectations with regards to the level of funding in return for more reliable funding and a seat at the table in the management of the funds,” he said.

“Africa looses more than most if there’s no agreement on climate change…because we have more to loose that others, we have to be prepared to be flexible and go the extra mile to accommodate others. This is what my proposal intends to achieve,” he said.

He went on; “There should not be any doubt about our eagerness to compromise and cut a deal. But such flexibility on our part should not be confused with desperation…we are determined to make sure that we have an agreement where everyone is happy.”

advertisement