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Climate Change Victim

Africa: Climate change victim number one

Wolfgang H. Thome, eTN Africa  Oct 15, 2009

African governments, supported by the African Union (AU), are now in the process of drafting harmonized legislation in regard of the climate change presently sweeping the continent and giving Africa a common voice in the international arena of negotiations and compensations expected to come out of the Copenhagen Climate Change Summit in December.

Regional meetings are now ongoing to formulate a common African position for Copenhagen, and the African delegations are expected to look at US$70+ billion from the developed “polluters” whose previous actions are now adding to the African suffering previously wreaked on the continent through economic exploitation by the colonial and neo-imperial powers, stemming back to the slave trade.

East Africa, in particular, has been suffering of a region wide drought, spreading from the Horn of Africa across much of Ethiopia, Kenya and other countries and the ever faster and ever more intense cycles of drought and flooding have led to suggestions that this may be due to global warming and climate change.

Nairobi will be host city of a conference for African parliamentarians ahead of the Copenhagen meeting in mid-October and Nairobi-based United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), a number of relevant non-governmental organizations (NGOs), bi- and multilateral partners and, notably, also the Kenya Wildlife Service are all putting their resources together to organize the gathering.

At least one Member of Parliament from the over 50 African countries part of the AU will attend and development partners, civil society and NGOs too are due for the meeting, where a comprehensive approach towards the climate change problems will be outlined.

Again, appropriately, it is Ethiopia presenting the African position in Copenhagen, as this Eastern African nation has in the past drawn the global spotlight over devastating and debilitating droughts, visiting upon Ethiopia like one of the ancient biblical plagues.

Africa presently has the lowest carbon footprint of all continents, but because of its geographical position is the most likely to suffer the severe weather fallout associated with climate change with a predicted 10 percent rise in average temperatures over the next 90 or so years.

The main targets for compensation will be the United States, the EU, China, India, and Russia. The latter three are expected to be the most obstinate and difficult ones to reach an agreement with.

Years have passed since Kyoto and these countries still resist a sizeable reduction of their carbon emissions and other pollution, to play a part in combating global warming. Considering this, even any compensation Africa is seeking to allow the continent to mitigate the climate change fallout and to develop environmentally friendly industries needed to provide employment for the large numbers of young Africans soon seeking to enter the workplace will be a challenge of its own herculean proportions.

Meanwhile, it was learned that Uganda is the first country to take advantage of the World Bank’s “Bio Carbon Fund,” which was set up, post Kyoto, to help countries to restore forests through reforestation projects. The National Forest Authority (NFA) is the lead partner in Uganda under a scheme aimed to ultimately bring forest cover back to 10s of thousands of hectares previously stripped of trees. Several hundred jobs are also expected to be created under the scheme, which laudably involved communities directly to ensure sustainability of the project.

NFA announced that they will use tropical hardwood trees, native trees and commercial tree species in areas where they are rolling out the project to ensure the longevity of the project while still, after some years, being able to use the “commercial” species for timber production. They have also pointed out that Uganda’s carbon trading position will be greatly enhanced, generating more funds to support the work NFA does nationwide. Watch this space.

Africa: Climate change victim number one
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