Climate Summit--African Countries Want Pay For Enviro-Damage
Zenawi: â€œWe lose more, not only because our ecology is more fragile, but because our best days are ahead of us. And lack of agreement here could murder our future even before it is born.â€
The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) summit now taking place in the Danish capital of Copenhagen appears to be in a
crisis with squabbling amongst African delegations and among developing countries openly taking place.
There was tension within the conference halls Wednesday when African delegates accused developed countries of "sidelining" them and using one of
their own, Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi for talking out of turn by offering concessions to the developed worlds that Africans had not agreed
Zenawi who leads the African negotiating delegation at UNFCCC, had threatened before he left the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa that Africa
would walk out of the conference unless developed countries promised to pour vast sums of money into African countries to help them deal with the
problems of climate change. The threat lasted only but a few hours and it is not clear what President Sarkozy offered Zenawi that led him to withdraw
But early Wednesday, Kenyan delegate Mithika Mwenda, co-ordinator of the Pan African Climate Justice Alliance complained: “We are really disturbed
by the position of the Ethiopian Prime Minister. First and foremost, we found it quite disturbing that he had a meeting with the French President
which was not sanctioned in any way by the African Heads of State conference which he is heading and we feel that actually that was
not a true position of Africa."
Addressing the major segment of the summit, Zenawi admitted that his proposals to scale back from the expected level of funding to poorer
countries may have disappointed his fellow leaders. He said: “From the point of view of justice, my proposals will disappoint some Africans who
had asked for full compensation for the damage done to our development prospects.” He argued that he had agreed to the scaling down of
compensation in return for "more reliable funding and a seat at the table for the management of such a fund."
Zenawi who back in his country is known for the way he detests environmental NGOs who he sees as "undesirables" is among many African
leaders who during the past decade have mismanaged and stolen aid money. The Ethiopian government ranks amongst the largest recipients of aid money
in Africa. His quick acceptance to scale down on demands by his fellow African leaders that the West foots a larger bill to help poorer countries
cope with climate change control, led some to wonder whether, by agreeing to have a seat on the management of the vast sums of money being offered to
help poorer countries, he had some ulterior motives of his own.
However, Zenawi was quick to explain to his detractors that Africa loses more than most if it did not reach an agreement with developed countries on
climate change. “We lose more, not only because our ecology is more fragile, but because our best days are ahead of us. And lack of agreement
here could murder our future even before it is born,” he said.
But Kenya’s Mwenda disagrees. He said: “Africa has a very, very elaborate position on all the development of the Bali road map. And we are very
categorical that Africa has one position, has one voice--one continent and anybody who deviates from it are not welcome.”
Mwenda went on to add that it would not be enough for Africa to be satisfied with leaving Copenhagen with a deal. “We want a fair deal which
will be able to assist the poor communities to add up to the effects of climate change. I come from and African country, Kenya, facing
the crisis of climate change, the crisis of lack of water, the crisis of energy and the crisis of food. And these have been brought about by draught
and relevant climate change. So this is not an issue which we should come to joke with here. It is an issue which, for us in Africa, we are committed
There was confusion when yet another peaceful demonstration was thwarted by Danish police wielding batons and charging demonstrators who were trying
to force their way into the centre of the summit hall. The Union of Oromo Students in Europe (UOSE) has announced its plans to stage a peaceful
demonstration Thursday against what it called Zenawi’s unfair and unjust representation on the UNFCCC. UOSE called Zenawi, "one of the most
repressive dictators and violators of human rights in Africa."
Entering a critical stage Wednesday, the UNFCCC’s hope that there will be a historical agreement come Friday when more than 100 heads of state gather
for the concluding ceremony, started to wane when poorer nations stalled the talks in an attempt to resists what they saw as efforts by developed
countries to impose decisions that fell short of stronger commitments to reduce greenhouse gases and to come to the aid of countries hurt by climate
The summit was briefly thrown into chaos when Danish Climate Minister Connie Hedegaard abruptly resigned and was subsequently replaced by Danish
prime Minister: Lars Lokke Rasmussen. British Prime Minister Gordon Brown who arrived in Copenhagen Wednesday said: “I know that for many people the
Copenhagen conference seems like a grand talking shop with abstract arguments about issues of little relevance to their daily lives. But
decisions we take in the next few days have the potential to be the most momentous for the world in more than half a century."
All eyes are now on President Obama who many feel may be the only leader to bring the more than 100 assembled world leaders together and cajole them
into signing a kind of agreements that the rest of the world would warm and are looking forward to.
On the eve of his departure from Washington, the Obama administration announcing it was setting aside US$10billion to help towards deforestation.
Obama arrives in Copenhagen Friday morning.
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