Africa's $10bn climate bill

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Copenhagen - Africa has demanded a start-up fund of $10 billion per annum for the next three years to help curb the effects of climate change.

Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, who is leading the African delegation at the climate change summit in Denmark, on Wednesday said the money would be used to fund, among other things, forestry projects and other ambitious adaptation and mitigation needs. He made it clear to the thousands of delegates attending the meeting that this was not a request but a demand.

"Every one of us knows that Africa has contributed virtually nothing to global warming but has been hit first and hardest. The fragility of our ecosystem has meant that for Africans the damage of climate change is not something that could happen in the future, it is already here with us," Zenawi said.

Africa has proposed that the start-up funding money be put in a trust fund to be administered by a board of trustees composed of equal number of donor and recipient countries.

"(We) demand that 40 percent of the money be earmarked for Africa and be administered by the African Development Bank under the board of trustees mentioned above," he said.

The demands came barely 12 hours before leaders of some of the most powerful nations in the world including US President Barack Obama, could arrive at the summit where a possible climate deal is to be decided on Friday.

"We are not here to preach or to grandstand. We are here to negotiate, to give and take and seal a fair deal however messy such a deal might be," said Zenawi.

He appealed to the developed nations to fill the gap that exists in carbon emissions so that everyone can have a chance to adapt to the challenges of climate change.

He accused the developed countries of being responsible for what he termed misery and death African people as a result of the wealth and well-being that was created in the developed countries through carbon intensive development.

Tensions had been brewing between rich countries and the G77, led by Africa, since plans surfaced on Monday to leave the Kyoto Protocol out of the current talks.

Zenawi said that Africans were not at the summit as victims nursing the wounds of injustices of the past. According to him, Africa was a continent of the future destined to be a growth pole of the 21st century.

"We are therefore here not as victims of the past but as stakeholders of the future reaching out across the continents so that together we can build a better and fairer future for all of us," he said.