Thursday, 3 September 2009

Africa may veto climate change deal says Ethiopia's Meles

Africa will send a united negotiating team to the landmark climate change talks in Copenhagen, Ethiopia's Prime Minister Meles Zenawi told a meeting of climate change experts, saying the continent bears the burden of global warming.

ADDIS ABABA, ETHIOPIA (SEPTEMBER 03, 2009) REUTERS - Africa will veto any climate change deal that does not meet its demand for money from rich nations to cut the impact of global warming on the continent, Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi said on Thursday (September 03).
A U.N. summit scheduled for December in Copenhagen will try to reach global agreement on how to tackle climate change and come up with a post-Kyoto protocol to curb harmful emissions.

"Over fifty countries, more than a quarter of the member states of the United Nations will be speaking with one voice. That should make the negotiations much more manageable than would have been the case in the absence of such a decision. Africa's interest and position will not be muffled as has usually been the case when each African country speaks for itself or tries to do so, on behalf of Africa without the necessary mandate," Meles told a conference of climate change experts in Addis Ababa.

"We will use our numbers to delegitimize any agreement that is not consistent with our minimal position. If needs be we are prepared to walk out of any negotiations that threatens to be another rape of our continent," Meles said.

He did not say how much money Africa would be looking for in Denmark but some experts have said the continent should ask for up to $200 billion a year.

Africa contributes little to the pollution blamed for warming but is the hardest hit by the drought and flooding cycle that is already affecting parts of the continent.

Ten African leaders last month held talks at the African Union (AU) headquarters in the Ethiopian capital and agreed a common stance ahead of the Copenhagen talks.

"We will participate in the upcoming climate negotiations not as invitees but as full blooded negotiators. We will participate in the negotiations not as supplicants pleading for our case but as negotiators defending our views and interests and reaching out to others to achieve our common positions. The fact that Africa will be represented by one negotiating team reinforces our role as key stakeholders and negotiators," said Meles.

Meles -- who has become Africa's most outspoken advocate on climate change -- earlier this year argued that pollution in the northern hemisphere may have caused his country's ruinous famines in the 1980s.

A study published in May by the Geneva-based Global Humanitarian Forum said poor nations bear more than nine-tenths of the human and economic burden of climate change.

The 50 poorest countries, however, contribute less than 1 percent of the carbon dioxide emissions that scientists say are threatening the planet, the report said.

Developing nations accuse the rich of failing to take the lead in setting deep cuts in greenhouse gas emissions, and say they are trying to get the poor to shoulder more of the burden of emission curbs without providing aid and technology.