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Africa seeks $40-billion a year in climate aid

Rich nations at the Copenhagen climate summit should commit $40-billion a year in new money to help Africa tackle the consequences of global warming, the president of the African Development Bank (AfDB) said on Monday.

Donald Kaberuka said he wanted to see a ”willingess by rich countries to dig into their pockets to enable low-income countries to adapt to climate change”.

”Climate change is costing this continent almost 3% of GDP per year. Now translate that into numbers, the kind of things we need: about $40-billion a year,” he told Reuters in an interview.

Asked about the consequences for Africa of failure at the summit in Denmark, he said: ”We have no choice. An agreement is needed in Copenhagen or soon thereafter.”

”We are suffering already the effect of climate change so the idea that somehow we can go to Copenhagen and expect no outcome is a terrible one to think about,” Kaberuka said at the AfDB’s headquarters in Tunis.

Negotiations began in the Danish capital on Monday between 190 countries on a treaty designed to curb emissions of greenhouse gases and combat the effects of climate change, including rising seas, desertification and floods.

African leaders say their continent has been hit particularly hard by climate change — and stands to suffer more if it continues unchecked — because of the fragility of many African economies.

Kaberuka said Africa would spend the $40-billion a year on helping countries adapt to climate change, on energy sources that are low on harmful emissions, and on measures like preserving forests to help absorb excess carbon dioxide.

He said he also wanted the Copenhagen summit to lead to an ”ambitious” agreement on cutting global emissions, and the creation of a governance structure to monitor countries’ compliance with emissions targets and aid commmitments.

Social justice
”For us the issues of climate are issues of development, you cannot disassociate the two because we are living at such a margin in terms of development, the level of fragility of vulnerable economies, that even small changes in temperature take us almost over the brink,” said Kaberuka.

”We need ambition not only to save the planet from additional emissions, but an ambition for social justice which enables African children to have hope for the future.”

Kaberuka said he shared the concern expressed by some non-governmental aid groups that money earmarked by rich nations at Copenhagen for climate change aid could be old cash recycled from existing aid pledges.

”That is my biggest fear,” he said. ”It should be new money, it should be additional … If we simply repackage and do some creative accounting and say, ‘Here’s new money for the climate,’ that is no good for the world.”

The AfDB president told Reuters he expected Africa’s economy, hit hard by the global slowdown, to bounce back, with a projected GDP growth in 2010 of between 5,5% and 6%.

But he said the impact of climate change was the ”elephant in the room” which could jeopardise Africa’s return to strong economic growth.

The AfDB, whose shareholders include Africa’s 53 nations and 24 non-African donor countries, will lend about $10-billion to African governments and companies this year. Much of its lending to poorer countries is at concessionary rates, largely financed by Western donors. – Reuters

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