Ethiopia betrayed Africa at Copenhagen

By Lucas Liganga, This Day

THE misunderstanding among Africans when it comes to making crucial decisions came to light last week during the UN Climate Change conference held in the Danish capital Copenhagen.

After two weeks of intensive negotiations, the African group made a formal submission to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change on Africa’s position on dealing with climate change.

Unfortunately, Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi who is the spokesman of Africa on climate change uncharacteristically teamed up with France and heavily doctored the African document, a move that shocked the African negotiators.

Following this unprecedented move, more hard questions were asked by the African negotiators, journalists and members of the civil society but there were no readily available answers. Who formed the Ethiopia-France alliance to represent Africa? How was France picked to represent Africa on climate change issues?

Why Ethiopia, speaking on behalf of Africa, took a unilateral decision to compose a text for presentation to the Conference of Parties (COP 15) leaders which was contrary to earlier agreement by the continent’s negotiators?

All this amount to the betrayal of the African continent. Period.

The text document entitled: The Joint Appeal of France and Ethiopia, Representing Africa, for an Ambitious Copenhagen Accord, reads that France and Ethiopia, representing Africa, launch today (December 16) an appeal to all parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change to adopt an ambitious agreement on December 18 limiting the increase of temperatures 2C above compared to preindustrial times as recommended by the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), and ensuring that vulnerable countries will receive adequate financing to face the challenge.

For instance, the document presented by Zenawi shows that the African countries had pushed for the adoption of a “fast-start” fund of $10bn per year covering the next three years from 2010 through 2012 but the original document puts the figure at $600bn.

In addition, the doctored document indicated that 40 per cent of the fund should be dedicated to adaptation in Africa while the original agreement was 50 per cent of the fund.

Adding salt to the wound,  the document stated that a high-level group composed of developed and developing countries’ experts will bring forward recommendations with a preliminary report to be presented no later than the next G20 summit in Canada, and its final report not later than the November 2010 G20 summit in Korea.

One may ask, why involve the G20 summits when they have nothing to do with the Copenhagen Climate Change negotiations?

And African parliamentarians and civil society leaders who attended the conference condemned the proposals made by Prime Minister Meles Zenawi saying his statement had no official bearing on the negotiations and it undermined the bold position of African negotiators and ministers represented at the conference.

A furious Mithika Mwenda of Pan-African Climate Justice Alliance said if Prime Minister Zenawi wanted to sell out the lives and hopes of Africans for a pittance – he was welcome to – but that is not Africa’s position.

Mr Meles’ announcement reeked of “divide and rule” tactics designed to subjugate Africa and undermine good faith in the United Nations negotiations.

African renowned environmentalist, Prof. Wangari Maathai, might have predicted the situation when she cautioned that the UN Climate Change conference might not come out with a perfect document.

She said she has been attending UN meetings since 1976 where delegates argue and wrangle over language and money, and at the end of the day no delegate leaves the conference with a perfect document and a perfect financial mechanism to implement their dreams.

Prof. Maathai, a Nobel Peace Laureate, Goodwill Ambassador for the Congo Basin Forest Ecosystem and UN Messenger of Peace, was indeed prophetic.

And the Copenhagen conference on climate change might not be any different taking into account the surprise move by Prime Minister Zenawi.

Frankly speaking, Prime Minister Zenawi should relinquish his position as spokesman for Africa on Climate Change lest he makes Africa a laughing stock.



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