‘We’ll be tough with the big boys’ -Ghana’s Minister says at Durban

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Suleiman Mustapha

Ghana’s Environment and Science Minister, Ms. Sherry Ayittey has warned that the 54 African countries at the UN climate change conference in Durban will not be bullied into making concessions to the developed countries at the expense of the African poor.
“We have come to Durban with very clear and precise objectives; and that is to negotiate for a second commitment for the Kyoto protocol”, she said.
“It’s a tough negotiation and we are going to be tough, we will not be pushovers” Ms. Ayittey stressed at a news conference in the South African port city of Durban.
The sticking point at the moment is the Kyoto Protocol, which the African Ministers and other developing countries have been fighting for its survival.
The Environment and Science Minister who led the Ghanaian delegation to the Durban conference said, Ms. Ayittey, developing countries are demanding an ambitious second commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol, the only legally binding instrument under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.
The Kyoto Protocol signed by most developed nations, excluding the United States, had undertaken a legally binding regime to cut emissions, leaving all developing countries out of it. The protocol is set to expire next year, and delegates at the climate change conference in Durban are struggling to find common grounds to extend it.
But now some developed countries including Canada, Russia, and Japan and Australia stand to not go ahead with the second period of commitments under the Kyoto Protocol against the African demand.
China, which is the world's second biggest emitter of greenhouse gases, but as a developing country is not yet required to reduce its emissions.
With China accounting for a fifth of the world's population, increases in its emissions could dwarf any cuts made by the industrialised countries.
The average Chinese person consumes only 10-15 per cent of the energy an average US citizen uses, but with the economy developing at high speed many analysts expect China's total emissions to overtake America's by mid-century.
There are attempts by some developed countries to lobby the Africa group to soften their stance and back off the Kyoto Protocol, but Ms Ayittey said there is no backing down on the Kyoto Protocol.
Securing the necessary climate finance forms a critical part of the official African position. “We’ve heard great things about the Green Climate Fund (GCF). Now some countries want to step back from it. It’s unacceptable. They have to walk the talk – we need the finance to cope.”
Developed countries have pledged to mobilise jointly $100 billion per year by 2020.
“You have to be responsible if you commit to a legally binding instrument. If your country doesn’t keep its word, it shouldn’t be trusted.”
The marathon talks entered their second week on Monday, but there has been no clear indication as to what will happen to the Kyoto Protocol.
Countries have to sign up for another legally binding emissions reduction period if they want to keep the protocol going after 2012.
The African position is that, should a second commitment period be achieved, developed nations should reduce their carbon emissions by at least 40 percent in the period 2013 to 2017 and by at least 95 percent by 2050.
Developed countries "have shown us economic leadership, political leadership and sometimes military leadership - and now we want them to show us climate leadership."
Call for review of Clean Development Mechanism
On adaptation and finance, the Minister Africa wanted Durban to agree on a review of the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), which she said was currently not effective, with very few states benefiting from it.
The CDM allows a country with an emission-reduction or emission-limitation commitment under the Kyoto Protocol to implement an emission-reduction project in developing countries. Such projects can earn saleable certified emission reduction (CER) credits, each equivalent to one tonne of CO2, which can be counted towards meeting Kyoto targets.



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