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COP 17: African Group negotiators protecting climate victims

by Michelle Simon 30 Nov 2011
COP 17: African Group negotiators protecting climate victims

Climate change via Shutterstock

The African countries formed a united front in the run-up to COP 17 as the 'African Group', with the aim of charting a unified front on curbing the threat of climate change to the African continent.

The African Group is committed to negotiating the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol, affirming that KP "constitutes the fundamental global legal framework on climate change and all actions or measures related to climate change must be in full conformity with the principles and provisions of the Convention, in particular those of equity and common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities." The KP first commitment period ends in 2012, with the proposed second commitment period from 2013 to 2017. Africa as a continent is highly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change and the climate victims are going to be the least polluting ones.

The AG proposes two main outcomes in line with the Bali Roadmap:

· An agreed outcome on long-term cooperative action to enhance the implementation of the Convention.

· An amendment to Annex B of the KP regarding further commitments of Annex 1 Parties for a Second Commitment Period.

The African Group is highlighting three points:

1. Mitigation Gap

2. Financial Gap

3. Legal Architecture

The AG takes exception that inadequate mitigation pledges by Annex 1 Parties in light of scientific data showing a risk of a global average temperature beyond the commonly held view of 2°C. Scientific data reflects a risk of up to 5°C. The call from Africa is also one of equity asking Annex 1 Parties (developed countries) to show leadership and raise the level of ambition and commitment based on science and equity. The African Group strongly supports the recent scientific studies and are urging developed countries to reduce their emissions to keep the global average temperature rise well below 1.5°C.

The AG is reaffirming their rights to:

· Equitable sharing of the Atmospheric Space and Resources by Non-Annex 1 Parties;

· Recognition of the cumulative historical responsibility and use of resources by Annex 1 Partes;

And calling for developed countries to:

· Reduce their GHG emissions by at least 40% from 2013-2017; and

· 95% by 2050

· Show equity and integrity in their commitment and close the gap between KP 1 and KP 2.

· Limit the use of carbon markets

· Undertake legally binding commitments under the Convention.

The AG however is holding a strong united front on KP and its continuation negotiating with two instruments (a) science and (b) the rule of law. The AG is proposing a 5 year commitment period from 2013-2017 and wish to engage the EU on its turn-around stance. On the 100 billion USD fund allocation as per the Green Climate Fund (GCF), the AG believes this is inadequate in addressing the needs of developing countries and is estimated at a need 5 to 6 times the current proposed billions.

A scary clause contained in the group's COP 17/ CMP 7 position: "...emissions in Africa remain extremely low. Africa's share of global emissions will need to grow to meet its social and economic development needs." That in essence means that Africa will reserve the right to reach higher emission levels to meet its development growth. I don't think civil society has been lobbying for smaller polluters or non-polluters to now attempt to catch up with the emissions of Annex 1 Parties, we should be totally transforming our industrial and energy sectors to one based on clean technologies and more labour-intensive non-polluting manufacturing. It is not acceptable for any developing country to use this as a debate point. Africa needs growth to alleviate poverty and establish a human rights benchmark on the quality of life but the path taken should be an ethical one and the fork in the development road should be a 180 degree one away from dirty development.

The AG is truly disappointed by Japan and Canada's stance seeing them as two key partners to the continent whom have abandoned Africa by not committing and urge them to reconsider. Responding to the issue of whether the group would make a concession in the negotiations, the AG believe they have a position and will not compromise the lives of millions and therefore a compromise is not envisaged but negotiating to the point of consensus is the AG's method of buy-in. On making sure the GCF reaches the needy, the AG believes that the mechanisms at national and international levels will meet standards and monitoring and would like to see civil society organisations having access to the funds, letting the most vulnerable define their own priorities. The AG reiterated: "that the biggest and largest terror facing Africa is climate change."

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