African countries urged to speak with one voice on climate change

Friday, April 17, 2009

Zimbabwe - African countries should fight for negotiation of new measures to tackle climate change to enable them to mitigate effects of the phenomenon while achieving sustainable development.

Addressing participants to a one-day climate change roundtable this week, Zimbabwean Environment and Natural Resources Minister Francis Nhema said it was imperative for African countries to ensure their interests were co-opted in solutions to be adopted in the international negotiations.

"It is important that the interests of Africans, that is, issues of adaptation, provision of technological and financial support for adaptation and mitigation are addressed in the post Kyoto Process," he said.

Representatives of governments throughout the world will meet in Copenhagen next year to discuss a new regime of measures to combat climate change ahead of expiry of the life span of the Kyoto Protocol of 1997.

World leaders meeting at the Earth Summit in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil, in 1992 adopted the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC) in response to the global phenomenon that causes flooding, droughts and related natural disasters.

The UNFCC sets out a framework for action aimed at stabilising atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases that interfere with the climate system.

Since the UNFCC did not have binding provisions that compelled parties to comply, delegates at the 3rd conference of parties held in Kyoto Japan in 1997 agreed to a protocol that committed industrialized countries to achieve a mission target.

These countries agreed to reduce their overall emissions of six greenhouse gases by an average of 5.2 percent below 1990 levels between 2008 and 2012.

Under the Kyoto Protocol, developing countries can develop through direct investment for clean development mechanisms projects from developed countries that have obligation to reduce their emissions of greenhouse gases.

African countries have, however, not benefited from the arrangement since the process is long and cumbersome.

In 2007, parties agreed to shape an ambitious and effective international response to climate change to be agreed at Copenhagen in December next year to address the post Kyoto period.

The Common Market of East and Southern Africa (COMESA) is organising roundtable meetings in member states to develop national positions that will be taken to the African Union for presentation at Copenhagen.

So far, the meetings, whose participants are drawn from industry, agriculture, and water sectors, have been held in Zambia, Democratic republic of Congo (DRC), Kenya, Eritrea, Seychelles and Zimbabwe.

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