‘Kyoto will not be buried in Durban’

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Suleiman Mustapha

Civil society organisations are urging Africa to remain steadfast in its demands for a commitment to the Kyoto Protocol and not to be bullied into a new agreement.
The two-week UN Climate Conference taking place in Durban is at mid-point and its prospect for success is not looking bright.
The political leaders have started to arrive to confront a range of problematic issues. It is likely that compromises will be worked out and a few successes will be claimed. The reality is that they won’t be enough to tackle the worsening climate situation on the ground.
The hottest topic is the fate of the Kyoto Protocol. In October 2009 news broke on how rich nations were plotting to get rid of this protocol. Since then, Japan, Canada and Russia have announced they do not want to undertake a second period of commitment, when the first period expires in 2012.
The developing countries have been fighting for the protocol’s survival and vowed that Durban shall not be the protocol’s burial ground. All developed countries except the United States commit to reduce their emissions by a certain percentage under this protocol.
“The African nations are watching you,” Bobby Peek, of Friends of the Earth, told the Africa group during a press conference in Durban. The conference, led by Friends of the Earth and the Pan African Climate Justice Alliance, comes as negotiators continue to struggle to reach an agreement.
“People in Africa are already paying the price of two hundred years of industrial pollution by the developed world. Africa must fight to ensure that developed countries deliver on their legal and moral obligation to cut the emissions that are putting the lives of millions of people at risk,” said Peek.
Tetteh Hormeku, of the African Trade Network, says if Africa were to shift its position, the consequences could be grave. Hormeku says targets in the expiring protocol are not adequate and should have been raised, but the biggest emitters are looking to hinder the process.
There are also fears that South Africa, the biggest polluter on the continent, may attempt to side with the developed world. Michele Maynard, of the Pan African Climate Justice Alliance, says: “South Africa has a leading role to play, as the chair of these talks here in Durban.
“The South African chair of the talks must not let South Africa down. African nations must stand shoulder-to-shoulder to deliver radical action to cut emissions, and substantial finance to allow Africa to adapt to the impacts already being felt.”
Augustine Njamushi, of the Pan African Climate Justice Alliance, says Africa is already feeling the impacts of climate change and delays in agreeing to a legally binding document means the continent will continue burning as others benefit. “The future of African agriculture, food and survival is at stake that is why it’s important that the continent sticks to its position.”
Martin Khor, of the South Centre, says developing countries are already doing quite a lot compared to the developed world.
“It’s not fair to treat the developing countries with big populations like developed countries when their per capita carbon is incomparable.”

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