From Copenhagen to Cancun to Durban:Behind the politics of climate change

by Hewa Nzuri

This year is a critical one for the global climate change negotiations. Durban, South Africa will play host to the UN Conference of Parties (COP 17) later this year.

One of the challenges in the run-up to Durban is understanding the politics of climate change arising from the Copenhagen meeting and the subsequent Cancun conference, the outcomes of those meetings, and how these outcomes relate to Durban and, therefore, what civil society demands can and should be. Continue reading “From Copenhagen to Cancun to Durban:Behind the politics of climate change”

Climate change negotiations: Durban, a critical battleground

by Kwesi W. Obeng

The just ended United Nations Climate Change Conference in Panama barely made progress in resolving the thorniest issues, stalling negotiations to conclude a global agreement later this year in Durban, South Africa to save the planet from overheating.

The future of the Kyoto Protocol, the architecture of any future agreement, long term finance and sources of funding especially for the Green Climate Fund are some of the most fractious issues still outstanding.

Durban, South Africa will be a critical battleground to break the deadlock within the framework of the United Nations Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in 2011. The Panama talks made progress on a few issues, notably adaptation, agriculture, technology, reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD+) and Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Actions (NAMAs). Continue reading “Climate change negotiations: Durban, a critical battleground”

PACJA letter to Sweden

We write to you as an alliance of civil society organizations in 43 countries across Africa that represents a diverse group of people and shares a common concern on our continent about the growing catastrophe that is climate change.

Climate change is upon us in Africa. Our rivers are drying. Our crops failing, diseases increasing, people going hungry, and thirsty. An unrelenting sun scorches our land while other areas are ravaged by storms and disease. Scientists now say the world could warm by 6°C – or more – a global average that will be exceeded in Africa. This threatens nothing less than the collapse of our continent.

Today Africa grapples with a challenge that is not of our making; effects we had little role in causing. We find no alternative but to look to those nations that contributed most to causing climate change, and to call on them to lead through their example.

We call on Sweden as the President of the European Union to fulfill its duty to ensure that Africa is kept safe from the rising impacts of climate change. Yet we find it failing in this duty. Along with other leaders of developed nations you have proposed:

That global average temperatures be limited to “below 2°C”, yet this threatens catastrophic harm to Africa (which could warm by around 1.5 times this global average);

That global emissions be limited to 50% of 1990 levels by 2050, yet this risks a 50% chance of exceeding 2°C; and

That Annex I countries cut their emissions by 80% by 2050, and non-Annex 1 countries including African countries make up the rest the rest of required effort. This would rob Africa of its fair share of atmospheric space and limit our prospects of development while we grapple with a more hostile climate.

Of greatest single concern is that it seems the European Union seeks to continue its domestic pollution well into the future by “offsetting” its emissions to Africa and other developing countries, further transferring the burden of curbing climate change to those countries that had little role in causing it.

Also of concern is the European Union’s seeming willingness to ignore their legal obligations under the Kyoto Protocol; failing to agree a second commitment period of the protocol will undermine the only international emissions targets for developed countries.

These positions are as unjust as they are unsustainable. We call on the European Union and other developing countries to recognize their historical responsibilities for the causes and adverse consequences and to repay their climate debts to Africa and other developing countries. Our detailed demands are set out in the attached African Climate Justice Manifesto.

As we near Copenhagen, the eyes of the world are upon the European Union. We call on you – as a leader of nations and as friends to Africa – to ensure that Sweden, the European Union and its partners in the industrialized world address their historical responsibilities and debts, and ensure that Africans and all people can look forward to a bright future.

PACJA letter do Denmark

We write to you as an alliance of civil society organizations in 43 countries across Africa that represents a diverse group of people and shares a common concern on our continent about the growing catastrophe that is climate change.

Climate change is upon us in Africa. Our rivers are drying. Our crops failing, diseases increasing, people going hungry, and thirsty. An unrelenting sun scorches our land while other areas are ravaged by storms and disease. Scientists now say the world could warm by 6°C – and by more in Africa. This threatens nothing less than the collapse of our continent.

Today Africa grapples with a challenge that is not of our making; effects we had little role in causing. We find no alternative but to look to those nations that contributed most to causing climate change, and to call on them to lead through their example.

We call on Denmark, as the Presidency of the Conference of Parties, to fulfill its duty to all Parties to ensure a fair and balanced process and an outcome that respects the distinct mandates to implement the Kyoto Protocol and the Climate Convention. These outcomes must ensure that Africa is kept safe from the rising impacts of climate change. Yet we find it failing in this duty. Along with other leaders of developed nations you have proposed:

That global average temperatures be limited to “below 2°C”, yet this threatens catastrophic harm to Africa (which could warm by around 1.5 times this global average);  That global emissions be limited to 50% of 1990 levels by 2050, yet this risks a 50% of exceeding 2°C; and there by making the costs to Africa significantly worse.

That Annex I countries cut their emissions by 80% by 2050, which would rob Africa of its fair share of atmospheric space and limit our prospects of development while we grapple with a more hostile climate and the twin challenge of tackling poverty.

Of greatest single concern is that it seems the European Union and other developed countries within the Umbrella Group seeks to continue its domestic pollution well into the future by “offsetting” its emissions to Africa and other developing countries, further transferring the burden of curbing climate change to those countries that had little role in causing it.

Also of concern is the seeming willingness of these developed countries to end rather than implement their legally binding obligations under the Kyoto Protocol; it is undermining the single international agreement that establishes binding international targets for developed countries.

These positions are as unjust as they are unsustainable mindful of the historical responsibility of developed country parties who have to take the lead in ensuring a stabilization of atmospheric concentrations while not undermining the right to development of developing countries.

We therefore call on you to ensure that the European Union and other developed country parties commit to adequately reduce their mid-term emissions under a second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol as well to provide additional and predictable financial and technological support for clean development and adaptation in developing countries.  Our detailed demands are set out in the attached African Climate Justice Manifesto.

As we near Copenhagen, the eyes of the world are upon Denmark. We call on you to ensure that Denmark and its partners in the industrialized world address their historical responsibilities and debts, and ensure that Africans and all people can look forward to a bright future.

Yours Sincerely,

Mithika Mwenda,

Coordinator – Pan-African Climate Justice Alliance