West 'slowing down' climate talks, charges group

Wednesday October 7 2009

By NATION Reporter

Representatives from an African Civil Society organisation have raised the red flag over what they term attempts by developed countries to ‘slow down’ the ongoing climate change talks in Bangkok, Thailand.

The lobby group- the Pan African Climate Justice Alliance - expressed outrage that industrialised countries ‘were not interested in committing deep emission reductions’ that would ultimately help in curbing the negative effects of climate change.

Led by coordinator Mr Mwenda Mithika, the group further accused the developed countries of not telling their developing counterparts of how they would be compensated once the catastrophes caused by climate change hits them.

These views were shared by Greenpeace - another lobby group - which said developed countries needed to demonstrate that they were willing 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.

According to them, it will cost the developing countries at least 140 billion dollars a year, in annual public funding, to meet these challenges.

Of this amount, 50 billion dollars should be set aside to support mitigation efforts, an equal amount will also be used to support adaptation while the rest be reserved for halting deforestation.

“An agreement on massively scaled up funding for developing countries is a key prerequisite for a robust agreement in Copenhagen,” said the lobby in a statement.

And Mr Mithika concurs: “Industrialised countries have instead been working behind the scenes with some vulnerable countries hoodwinking them that they will give them money for adaptation. This bilateral engagement is a way of incentivising them to break away from G77 and China.

"The G77 & China is a critical stakeholder in these discussions...as per the Convention, they are not telling us how they will compensate the developing countries on the catastrophes caused by climate change, particularly on massive transfer of technology and adaptation finance.”

He goes on: “ We therefore wish to express our outright disapproval at the deliberate attempt by developed countries to sabotage the progress being made in the talks. Such sabotage, we believe, threatens to undermine any chance of attaining a fair and equitable deal in Copenhagen in December 2009.”

The lobby groups said they were keenly following the ongoing negotiations in Bangkok over the past week with keen interest, but were saddened to observe a strong degree of mistrust permeating the dialogue process.

“There is a real danger we are headed towards a tragic breakdown of the negotiations in Copenhagen unless political will is enhanced, particularly from industrialised countries,” said Mr Mithika.

“Renewed genuine commitment and leadership by the United States, EU and other Annex I countries is a pre-requisite to enable discussions to move forward. This is particularly important in the areas of mid-term mitigation targets as well as adaptation finance and technology transfer.”

In view of this, the lobby is demanding that all commitments made by the industrialised countries be fulfilled, including the polluter pays principle.

They also want the following to be enforced;

--Provision of adequate and predictable financing for adaptation, mitigation, technology transfer and capacity building for developing countries.

--Deep emission cuts by Annex 1 countries of 45 percent below 1990 levels by 2020, and of a 90 percent reduction by 2050.

--Compensation to African Countries and establishment of an Adaptation Fund for Africa.

Government delegates are meeting in Bangkok, Thailand on the penultimate round of climate change negotiations ahead of the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen in December, at which a comprehensive international climate change deal is to be sealed.

Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva opened the two-week meeting.

The Bangkok Climate Change talks were preceded by the UN Climate Change Summit in New York on 22 September, convened by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, at which around 100 heads of state and government clearly called for a comprehensive climate change agreement in Copenhagen.