'Death of Kyoto = Death of Africa'

2009-12-16 13:03

Addis Ababa - The African Union on Tuesday estimated that the Copenhagen summit on climate change could lead to the "death warrant for the Kyoto Protocol," the only instrument currently regulating emission of greenhouse gases.

"Representatives of the continent have unanimously made known their absolute and determined refusal to pursue consultations that would sign the death warrant for the Kyoto Protocol," said a statement sent to AFP.

"The UN Framework Convention of Climate Change sets out general principles with no binding clauses, while the Kyoto Protocol, for its part, is a judicial instrument for commitments to reducing emissions of greenhouse gases."

For the 53-member African Union, which is to be represented in Copenhagen by Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi as negotiator in chief, "the death of the Kyoto Protocol would be the death of Africa".

On Monday, the African nations walked out of working group sessions in the Danish capital to demand a plenary session on the future of the protocol, then they resumed conference activity in the afternoon.

"Everything leads us to believe ... that a far less stringent climatic regime is being prepared by the developing countries," the pan-African body's statement said.

"The consequences of the disappearance of the Kyoto Protocol for Africa are principally famine, population displacements, floods, drought, social conflicts, diseases and decisively the worsening of poverty."

'People prepared to ignore Africa's plea'

The AU said that the main result expected from the Copenhagen summit "is the obtaining of ambitious commitments on the part of the developed nations, those mainly responsible for global warming with its dramatic consequences for Africa. To set the protocol aside would reduce hope to nothing".

Last Friday, Meles said that a "failure of the Copenhagen summit would be a failure for Africa", the continent the most affected by global warming, though it produces less than four percent of the planet's greenhouse gases.

"My feeling is that people are prepared to ignore Africa's plea, which is morally unacceptable but rationally understandable," Meles said, adding that Africa would seek alliances with countries such as China and India.

"I have been assured of China's support and India will probably take the same position. I suppose therefore that if there is no accord that Africa can sign, there will be no accord," he warned.

Meles met Tuesday in Paris with French President Nicolas Sarkozy as part of a joint Europe-Africa push to reach a global deal at the talks in Copenhagen due to end on Friday.

France and African states drew up a joint statement backing targets to limit the rise in global temperatures to two degrees Celsius and to offer financial aid to help poor countries adapt.

"Such stakes for the planet are so important that an alliance between Africa and Europe is absolutely crucial, and that is the message I will give to (US President) Barack Obama," Sarkozy said.