African ministers take a stand on climate change

African environment ministers on Friday demanded clear commitment from industrialised countries to fund projects to counter the effects of global warming.

They lamented lack of commitment by developed states to fund projects that will help Africa, the world’s lowest polluter, to cope with the effects of climate change.

“There is no commitment that has been made to fund adaptation and there are still conditionalities ... being pegged,” South Africa’s Environment Minister Buyelwa Sonjica said.

“If anything we would have wanted a stronger leadership from the developed world and I am not sure if it’s there. I haven’t seen it yet,” said Sonjika, who heads the African Ministerial Conference on the Environment.

The ministers in Nairobi also agreed on a common stand on climate change to be presented at the United Nations climate conference in Copenhagen in December.

The agreement calls for more finances and clean energy technology transfer as well as significant carbon emission cuts by developed countries.

The ministers want industrialised nations to cut emissions by 25% to 40% by 2020 below the 1990 levels.

They also urged the G8 countries to implement a recommendation to establish a regional centre for climate change in Africa.

“Africa’s environment ministers have today signalled their resolve to be part of the solution to the climate change challenge by forging a unified position,” said Achim Steiner, the UN Environment Programme chief.

“It is now time for other continents and countries, especially the developed economies, to now seriously shoulder theirs.”

French Minister of Environment Jean-Louis Borloo, who attended, pledged Europe’s total support for Africa, warning against using the global financial crisis to delay action.

“Europe will do it.
We know our American friends started late ... but we have to stick to our 25% to 40% reduction. The [global] crisis should not be used as pretext by industrialised countries to delay,” he said.

The African Union commissioner for agriculture Rhoda Tumussime said the continent had a “moral right to demand for compensation from those countries that contribute most of the problem to global warming”.

“It is grossly unfair for Africa to suffer from a problem for which it has contributed very minimally,” she said.

Kenya’s Environment Minister John Michuki said: “African should not be the first to pay the price.”

According to UNEP’s statistics, between 75-million and 250-million people in Africa may face water shortages by 2020.

It also estimates that up to $50-billion would be needed every year to cope with the effects of climate change in Africa. - AFP

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