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Initiating Moves To Climate-proof Africa

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Issue date: 
Jun, 20 2010
Publisher Name: 
Daily Independent
Michael Simire
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Discouraged by the outcome of the Copenhagen climate summit last December as well as how negotiations at the just concluded talks in Bonn in Germany seem to have turned out, developing nations made up of mainly those from Africa are now looking inwards as a way out of the dilemma.


Convinced that an agreement that would save them from the negative impacts of a transforming climate are not likely to emerge even at major upcoming meetings this year in Mexico and next year in South Africa, the Africans appear to have given up on immediate compensation and instead resolved to place their destiny in their own hands.

Delegates from no fewer than two countries spoken to in Bonn expressed similar sentiments, saying that, ongoing moves notwithstanding, they were on high alert.

“We will not fold our hands and let the consequences (of climate change) ambush us,” stressed Nigeria’s climate chief, Dr. Victor Fodeke. “This is the beginning of a climate catastrophe; the beginning of sorrow (for developing nations).”

Head of the Kenyan Delegation to Bonn, Dr Muusya Mwinzi, said though Kenya remained hopeful about the start-up funds, it would nonetheless commence its mitigation and adaptation programmes.

“In as much as we want money from the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) process, each country must be clear about its domestic priorities. We cannot wait any longer,” he said.

According to Mwinzi, Kenya has launched a Climate Change Response Strategy which will guide its programmes and policies. This, he noted, was in line with a resolve by African governments to develop their own internal mechanisms that are not wholly dependent on donor funding.

He added that this was prompted by concerns that developed countries were not living up to their commitments with regards to the start-up funds. The countries had promised last December in Copenhagen in Denmark to deploy $30 billion from now to 2012 in short-term finance to kick-start climate action in developing countries. Outgoing UNFCCC boss, Yvo de Boer, called on them in Bonn to endeavour to fulfill the pledge.
Mwinzi said, “It is not clear when the money will come, neither does anyone know the mechanisms that will be used to disburse it, if and when it comes. Kenya is focusing on forest rehabilitation and drought mitigation as part of the climate change response strategy.”

Fodeke, boss at the Special Climate Change Unit (SCCU) in the Federal Ministry of Environment and Head of the Nigerian Delegation to the Bonn Talks, submited that, as a backup action plan, nations had adopted the Strategic Preparedness Action Plan to Climate-proof Africa (SPAPCA) sponsored by Environment Minister, John Odey, at a recent conference in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

“It is a proactive plan designed on one hand to address the consequences of climate change and, on the other, to explore opportunities for renewable energy as well as reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD).”

Saying that the plan was being implemented regionally and ultimately nationally, Fodeke noted that West African environment ministers last February adopted a Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment Plan, even as Nigeria was fine-tuning its Climate Change Policy and Response Strategies (CCPRS).

The CCPRS, he disclosed, addresses issues related to adaptation/mitigation, mitigation with REDD, carbon credit opportunities, employment of a strategic adaptation programme as well as overhaul of early warning systems and a functional satellite-based information system.

Fodeke emphasised that it would take quite some time to clean up the clog of carbon emissions in the atmosphere as a result of decades of industrialisation by developed nations.

“Most of these were loaded up there in the last 50 years in terms of the numerous ships built, gas, thermal and coal-fired plants as well as forest degradation. And this is just the beginning. Look at what happened in Copenhagen. Don’t expect any success in Cancun; not even in South Africa next year,” he declared.

He noted that negotiations at the meetings in Bonn did not go as expected, saying that, just like last December’s summit, fell short of expectations.

But UNFCCC officials stated otherwise, pointing out that the Bonn confab recorded some progress towards concluding what was left incomplete in Copenhagen. The outcome, they added, would be presented at the UN Climate Change Conference (Sixteenth Conference of Parties - COP 16) in Cancún, Mexico at the end of the year.

“A big step forward is now possible at Cancún, in the form of a full package of operational measures that will allow countries to take faster, stronger action across all areas of climate change,” said de Boer.

He stressed that progress was made at the meeting in fleshing out the specifics of how a climate regime can work in practice. The Ad Hoc Working Group on Long-term Cooperative Action under the Convention (AWG-LCA) undertook detailed discussions on reducing greenhouse gases, adapting to the inevitable effects of climate change, the transfer of clean technology, reducing emissions from deforestation and capacity building, along with finance and institutional arrangements.

The chair of the negotiating group was tasked to develop a long-term response to climate change tabled a text that seeks to address the wider interests of all Parties, and was requested by Parties to compile a revised version by the next negotiating session in August.
A second working group on future climate action, focusing on emissions reduction commitments for the 37 industrialised countries that have ratified the Kyoto Protocol, also met in Bonn. In this group, countries started work on turning the emission reduction pledges that developed countries made since Copenhagen into targets that can be formally compared in a UN negotiating context.

Similarly, industrialised countries pledged emission reduction targets, and 39 developing countries pledged voluntary actions to limit their greenhouse gas emissions.
“The fact remains industrial country pledges fall well short of the -25-40 percent range the IPCC has said gives a 50 percent chance to keep the global temperature rise below two degrees,” he said. “Take all current pledges and plans from all countries and we still won’t stop emissions growing in the next 10 years.”
The pledges made by rich countries so far add up to about 12-19 percent of emissions over 1990 levels by 2020. Industrialised countries as a group have indicated their willingness to take on a -80% goal for 2050.
“I believe the future will deliver this goal. But more stringent actions cannot be much longer postponed. Otherwise, the 2 degree world will be in danger, and the door to a 1.5 world will have slammed shut,” said the departing UN climate chief.




Extpub | by Dr. Radut