'Africa to be hit hardest' by climate change

African demands for climate-change compensation and emission cuts by rich nations are unlikely to be met in next month’s Copenhagen summit, Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi said on Tuesday.

“We have only a few weeks between now and Copenhagen ... the indications that we get are not very encouraging,” Meles said after a meeting of an African Union panel set up to represent the continent at the December 7 to 18 gathering.

“Indeed we have prioritised our requirements. First and foremost we need to make sure that global warming does not go beyond two degrees and that carbon emissions peak by at the latest 2020,” he added.

Africa has also demanded billions of dollars in compensation from rich countries to cope with the effects of climate change.

“Africa is going to be hit hardest and it’s going to be hit first,” said Meles.

“So we as Africans have more stake than perhaps anybody else in making sure that there is a robust fair and practical agreement in Copenhagen.”

He however declined to state a specific figure of compensation, but said his group had already set up a minimum, which could amount to “the $100-billion per annum mark as of 2020 that has been set by some experts”.

Representatives of the bloc had previously indicated that they would also demand that industrialised nations take measures to cut emissions by 25% to 40% in 11 years time.

According to a study by the UK-based Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment, global warming could cost
the continent about $30-billion a year by 2015.

That figure could rise to between $50-billion and $100-billion by 2020 due to increasing costs to cope with climate change effects such as frequent and more severe floods, droughts and storms, as well as extreme changes in rainfall patterns, the group said.
- AFP

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