PM wants success at climate talks

Thursday December 10 2009

Prime Minister Raila Odinga addresses Kenyan negotiators at the ongoing climate change summit in Copenhagen, Denmark. He told them not to contemplate failure. Photo/PMPS

Prime Minister Raila Odinga addresses Kenyan negotiators at the ongoing climate change summit in Copenhagen, Denmark. He told them not to contemplate failure. Photo/PMPS 

By DAVE OPIYO in Copenhagen, Denmark 

Prime Minister Raila Odinga has told Kenyan negotiators at the ongoing climate change summit in Copenhagen, Denmark not to contemplate failure.

“Failure is not an option for us in Kenya, Africa and the World. We may not achieve everything, there will be contentious issues but we must succeed. The conference must be a success,” said Mr Odinga in Copenhagen at a meeting with members of the Kenyan delegation at the summit that ends next week.

Mr Odinga said the time to act against climate change was now adding that failure to act will ‘spell doom’ to countries like the Maldives, Vanuatu and others, which are at a high risk of being submerged.

“Even our own Mombasa will not be spared in the whole equation. It also risks sinking,” he said.

Mr Odinga said even as they championed Kenya’s interest in the UN talks, they should not forget to stand in solidarity with the rest of the continent, which has by far borne the greatest brunt of the global climate change crisis, despite them contributing the least.

“Our voices will be much louder if we stand united that when we stand aloof.”

The PM urged the delegates to be diplomatic even in the face of divided opinion.

“We should stop the blame game…there will definitely be differences amongst you and other negotiators but we need to be diplomatic if we are to succeed.”

Those who accompanied the PM included Assistant minister Alfred Khangati, MPs Musa Sirma, Rachael Shebesh, Musikari Kombo, Prof Margaret Kamar, David Koech, Wilbur Otichilo, Kiema Kilonzo, Erustus Mureithi and others.

The climate change meeting is expected to come up with a deal that will supplant the Kyoto Protocol, which expires 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 gasses, now accepted as the main cause of global warming.

Mr Odinga's Thursday brief meeting comes at a time when sharp divisions between developed and developing countries over the possible shape of the new deal persist.

While briefing the PM on the status of the negotiations so far, Ms Grace Akumu, the country’s Technical Advisor on climate change issues said developed countries were ‘shifting their positions on a number of issues’ including figures on emissions reduction.

“They want the figures not to be included under the Kyoto Protocol but long term corporative action and we are opposed to this. We feel that this is a repetition of what happened in the talks that occurred in Barcelona, Spain a few months ago,” she said.

“Developed countries must commit…the survival of African countries depends on it. If this does not happen, then we are likely to witness more of the negative effects of climate change like more floods and droughts.”

African countries want their industrialised counterparts to be compelled to provide adequate financial assistance to developing states to enable them access climate-friendly technologies that would assist them combat global warming.

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.

Issues also surrounding the emergence of leaked documents – the so called Danish text - that show world leaders will next week be asked to sign an agreement that hands more power to rich countries and sidelines the UN's role in all future climate change negotiations has also been raising considerable uproar.