African states on climate effects: Pay up 'cos it ain't us
- Branko Brkic
- 13 Oct 2009 (South Africa)
In a demand that will resound in the Copenhagen climate change summit in December, Africa now says it wants reparations and damages from polluting countries.
African Union Commission chairman Jean Ping says the continent will present a common position for the first time, although it hasn't quantified the damages it will seek. Indeed, quantification and qualification of such damages will pollute the political atmosphere for some time to come. And, while no doubt the polluting countries include major Western nations, they will stop short of China, Russia, India, Brazil, and G20 nations such as South Africa and South Korea.
Ping made the startling call at the seventh World Forum for Sustainable Development in Burkina Faso this weekend, which brought together a list of luminaries from business, industry and government, including the UN and academia. In August, the AU met at its headquarters in Addis Ababa to plan how much it should ask for at Copenhagen. The sum, which would be paid by tax payers from rich countries, came to about $67 billion a year by 2020. Burkina Faso's environment minister, Salifou Sawadogo, confirmed this ballpark sum at the latest forum, with Ping saying policy makers must adhere to the principle that the polluter pays.
It seems that African states want industrialised countries to lower greenhouse gas emissions by at least 40% below 1990 levels within 10 years, and by up to 95% below 1990 levels by 2050, as well as commit to paying 0.5% of gross domestic product to poorer countries to fight climate change. Expect a bun-fight over the rich-poor algorithm. Many African nations are demanding that annual payment to the continent should be much higher, as Africa sees itself as one of the main victims of global warming, despite claiming it contributes virtually nothing to this effect. Soon there will probably be feisty debate over mass deforestation and creeping desertification on the continent, issues which presumably are within the powers of African states to change.
By Mark Allix
Read more: AFP
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