African countries to speak with one voice at Copenhagen

Monday, October 12, 2009

Ouagadougou - African countries had decided to adopt a common position and to speak in one voice during the United Nations (UN) climate summit scheduled for December in Copenhagen.

African Union (AU) Commission Chairperson Jean Ping made this declaration during the 7th World Forum on Sustainable Development, under the theme "Climate Change: challenges and opportunities for sustainable development."

While insisting that the problem of climate change will from now on be pursued by Africa as a developmental problem and be an integral part in the economic growth, Ping pointed out that for the first time, a common African position on climate change was elaborated taking into account the specificities and the continental priorities.

"Africa has decided to speak with only one voice and has appointed a team of negotiators with expertise to negotiate on her behalf in Copenhagen," the AU chief explained.

According to him, this common position for Africans is aimed at getting the engagement of those responsible for global warming, especially the industrialized countries, to reduce the gas emissions and respond to the principle of polluters pay. This position was also to help the African continent to adapt herself to climate change.

Ping also regretted that Africa is the least prepared continent to tackle the challenges of climate change because it does not have the required means to confront the consequences of environmental degradation and her ecosystem which is already fragile.

"The African heads of state and governments of the African Union came up, in the last two years, with evidence of an injustice which has neither been corrected to date or repaired and which is that, for a continent with only 3.5 percent of the gas emissions, Africa is paradoxically the most vulnerable, experiencing the most serious consequences of climate change: drought, floods and soil erosion," he noted.

While speaking at the forum, former French president Jacques Chirac indicated that development aid to poor countries was the most effective way of helping them overcome the effects of climate change.

According to him, its futile to oppose the fight against poverty in place of fighting climate change because it's development aid that helps to fight misery, facilitates the best agricultural practices, pastoral and energy.

Pointing out that it's the misery of men that leads them to destroy forests, impoverish biodiversity and pollute water, Chirac said that it's the climate of the entire planet that is going to suffer the consequences.

For him, the least developed countries should have exceptional solidarity if they will remove their people from poverty and also achieve the necessary investments to avoid the risks associated with climate change.