African leaders will ask rich nations for $67 billion (R521 billion) per year from 2020 to cushion the impact of global warming on the world’s poorest continent, according to a draft resolution seen by Reuters.
Environment and agriculture ministers from several nations are meeting at African Union (AU) headquarters in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa to try to agree a common stance before a UN summit on climate change in Copenhagen in December.
Experts say Africa contributes little to the pollution blamed for warming, but is likely to be hit hardest by the droughts, floods, heatwaves and rising sea levels forecast if climate change is not checked.
“This is the time for Africa to aggressively engage to ensure that climate change is effectively addressed,” Jean Ping, chairman of the AU Commission, told delegates.
“Africa’s development aspirations will be destroyed unless steps are taken to arrest the impact of climate change.”
The draft resolution, which must still be approved by the ministers, called for rich countries to pay at least $67 billion annually to counter the impact of global warming in Africa.
AU sources said that, if passed, the resolution would call for the funds to be paid each year beginning in 2020. No date was set for them to stop.
AU officials say there had been serious limitations on Africa’s ability to negotiate in the past because of a lack of a coherent stance on global warming by African governments.
“The negotiating team need to be backed with the political weight at the highest level in the continent to ensure that the African voice on climate change negotiations is taken with the seriousness it deserves”, the document said.
Calls for compensation
The discussions in Addis Ababa attracted senior officials from countries including Algeria, Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Mauritius, Mozambique, Nigeria and Uganda.
Earlier this year, Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi called on rich countries to compensate Africa for warming, arguing that pollution in the northern hemisphere may have caused his country’s ruinous famines in the 1980s.
A study commissioned by the Geneva-based Global Humanitarian Forum that was released in May 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 % of the carbon dioxide emissions that scientists say are threatening the planet, the report said.
Africa is the region most at risk from warming and is home to 15 of the 20 most vulnerable countries, it said. Other areas also facing the highest level of threat include South Asia and small island developing states.
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.
A new climate treaty is due to be agreed in Copenhagen in December. But a senior UN official has warned the discussions risk failure if they are accelerated.
Yvo de Boer, head of the UN Climate Change Secretariat, said only “selective progress” had been made towards trimming a 200-page draft treaty text in Bonn earlier this month, one of a series of talks meant to end with a UN deal in Denmark.
Pic: AU Head quarters