African lawmakers seek common position ahead of climate summit

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Nairobi - African lawmakers are meeting to discuss best ways to handle the harsh environmental conditions brought by climate change ahead of the UN meeting on global warming in Denmark.

Lawmakers attending the two-day meeting said Africa must be fully prepared to justify its requests at the Copenhagen meeting to allow financial flows to the continent.

Kenya's Environment Minister John Michuki said that there was need to make a firm decision on the amount required to address climate change issues in Africa.

"We should spend the remaining time on projects and numbers because it is in Copenhagen that projects and numbers will meet the financial gurus of this world," Michuki said at the start of the meeting on Tuesday.

"If we shall be told to go back home and work out on our programs and projects, we shall have wasted our meager resources for two weeks and come out there with nothing."

The conference is also expected to rally African countries to demand for an equitable post in the 2012 Climate Change Agreement.

The lawmakers will show their commitment in conserving the environment by planting trees in Karura Forest. Five hectares have been set aside for the exercise.

Swedish ambassador Ann Dismorr said the European Union (EU) pledged to cut the emission of greenhouse gasses by 30 percent by next year and scale up financial support to developing countries.

"This is providing that other developed countries make comparable reduction commitments, and providing that advanced developing countries contribute adequately according to their responsibilities and capabilities," Dismorr said.

Nobel Peace Prize laureate Wangari Maathai said Africa should stop over dependence on donor funds and implement environment conservation measures that do not require much funding.

Maathai told the lawmakers that governments should encourage planting of more trees, harvesting rain water, curbing soil erosion and protection of wetlands instead of just looking up to the West for aid.

She told African MPs attending the conference to forge the continent's collective position ahead of the global climate talks in Copenhagen in December to ensure the forum was not another talking shop.

In June, the African Parliamentarians Summit on Climate change said it would demand at the talks that the Annex 1 countries (developed countries) committed a minimum $200 billion annually for adaptation and mitigation of climate change in developing countries.

Among issues to be deliberated on by the lawmakers, university dons and environmental experts include the role of lawmakers on climate change, legislative approaches, disputes and actions, economic impact of climate change and its implication on development.

"Because we could talk about degradation, adaptation, we can talk about mitigation but that will not take us anywhere in Copenhagen," Michuki said. He said the industrialized nations should leave the developing countries to come up with their own solutions to the climate change problem.

The Copenhagen talks are expected to come up with a new climate deal to replace the Kyoto protocol which was adopted in December 1997 and entered into force in February 2005.

The Kyoto Protocol which sets binding targets for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions has been signed and ratified by 184 parties of the UN Climate Convention with the United States as a notable exception.

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