Africa joins climate change debate

Africa joins climate change debate

by / Comments Off / 45 View / 19th October 2009

Burkina Faso

African leaders met to discuss their positions on climate change just two months before a crucial UN summit in Copenhagen.

The forum was held last week in the country’s capital Ouagadougou and concluded that billions of dollars will be needed to cope with the impact of global warming on the continent.

Salifou Sawadogo, Burkina Faso’s environment minister, said: ‘We think 65 billion dollars are needed to deal with the effects of climate change on a continental scale.’

He added: ‘That is to say that our expectations are very high. We are all on the same planet so there is a duty of solidarity to help the most vulnerable countries, like we are, implement policies to adapt to climate change.’

 Salifou SawadogoThe discussion was part of the seventh world forum on sustainable development and is seen as an important step forward for Africa’s status in the international climate change debate.

 Jean Ping, commission chairman of the African union, said that ‘Africa will have a common position’ in Copenhagen. ‘We have decided to speak with one voice’, he explained.

 According to French press reports, Africa only accounts for four percent of global greenhouse gas emissions which scientists believe to be responsible for climate change. But experts predict that Sub-Saharan Africa is one of the regions worst affected by global warming.

The World Bank estimated that developing countries will have to face 80 per cent of the damage inflicted by a warming earth while industrialised nations are the worst offenders.

Sawadago said that ‘with 30 million inhabitants the US state of Texas creates as much greenhouse gases as the billion Africans taken together.’

Ping warned that the polluting countries will have to take responsibility for their impact on the global climate. ‘Policy-makers have to agree to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases and adhere to the principle that the polluter pays’, he said.

Scientists and climate change campaigners hope that the summit in Copenhagen will result in a climate change deal following up on the commitments made in the Kyoto Protocol in ‘97.

 After George W. Bush famously walked out of the Kyoto deal in ‘01, all eyes are now on the Obama administration. In his first speech to the UN last month, President Obama said the United States understands ‘the gravity of the climate threat.’ He added: ‘We are determined to act. And we will meet our responsibility to future generations.’