As apprehension mounts over meeting previous agreements on climate change, the African Group of Negotiators has vowed not to bury the Kyoto Protocol. Their stance was stated as the 17th Conference Of Parties (COP17) negotiations on the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) gathered momentum in Durban, South Africa yesterday.
And as the event entered the third day, the colours of Nigeria have not been seen at the exhibition grounds of the International Conference Centre (ICC). The Guardian gathered that the Nigerian delegation has been unable to fly down to Durban due to “some hitches.”
Also at the Africa Pavilion, there is no Nigerian stand. It was also gathered that thus far, only the Nigerian representative in charge of the Reducing Emission through De-forestation and Degradation (REDD) programme has arrived in Durban.
The exhibition stands at COP17 present countries with an opportunity to show what they are doing about the problem of climate change, while branding and marketing their countries to investors who may be interested in bringing green, and other environmentally-friendly businesses to their shore.
When The Guardian visited the exhibition stands, both at the Africa pavilion and elsewhere, representatives of different countries could be seen speaking glowingly about programmes their countries were implementing to tackle climate change. They include African countries such as Namibia, Ethiopia, Angola, Tanzania, among others. There were also bodies like the World Bank, the European Union (EU), World Health Organisation (WHO) and some other UN agencies.
According to a statement by the UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), one of the chairs of the Group and lead negotiator of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mr. Victor Kabengele wa Koudilu, said at the opening session of the Ad-hoc Working Group on the Kyoto Protocol (AWG-KP) that “Africa will not become the graveyard of the Kyoto Protocol.”
Also, the African Group of Negotiators has made a strong argument for the need to have agreed benchmarks on climate finance, to foster transparency and accountability in the way the money is provided and used, according to a new report released on the sidelines of the COP17.
The report presents up-to-date figures on the current provision of climate finance for Africa and reveals the abysmally low levels of delivering on global climate change finance promises, according to the Information and Communication Service of ECA.
Researched and written for the African Group of Negotiators by the African Climate Policy Centre (ACPC) of the UNECA, the report also shows that current finance available for Africa and other developing countries under the fast-start finance is not commensurate to the scale required to implement the activities agreed to in the UN climate convention.
For example, the report points to the $29.2 billion pledged since
2009, and states that only between $2.8 billion and $7 billion is “new” or not previously pledged. This means that the total amount of funds that are both “new” and “additional”, that is on top of aid budgets, would be less than $2 billion, it states.
While 97 per cent of the promised $30 billion has been pledged, only 45 per cent has been “committed”, 33 per cent has been allocated, while only seven per cent has actually been disbursed, the report further stated.
The African Group is the body of 53 countries on the continent represented in the UN climate change negotiations. It is chaired by Mr. Tosi Mpanu Mpanu of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
And as delegates grapple with the cumbersome processes of ensuring that the COP17 makes substantial progress on a number of agreements reached at COP16 in Cancun, Mexico, Qatar and the Republic of Korea have agreed to closely cooperate to make the next major UN Climate Change Conference at the end of 2012 a success.
According to an announcement, the 2012 UN Climate Change Conference, COP18/CMP 8 (the 18th Conference of Parties to the UNFCCC, plus the Eighth session of the COP serving as the meeting of the parties to the Kyoto Protocol), will take place in Qatar from November 26 to December 7, 2012.
Urging parties to work towards a binding agreement in Durban, Kabengele declared that: “The African Group would like to state loud and clear that it will not allow African soil to become the graveyard of the Kyoto Protocol.”
He reiterated Africa’s position adopted by the African Heads of State and Government that developed countries should “take ambitious, legally-binding, quantified emissions reduction commitments in the second commitment period of at least 40 per cent below 1990 levels by 2020; and between 80 and 95 per cent by 2050.”
Last year, The Guardian gathered that negotiators from 194 nations agreed to create the “Green Climate Fund” to channel up to $100 billion a year by 2020 to developing countries.
Developing countries have warned that control of the fund by the donor nations – and the burden of bureaucracy that entails – would limit their ability to make good use of it.
The Least Developed Countries (LCDs), 48 of the poorest nations in Africa and Asia, that are particularly vulnerable to climate change, were represented on the committee by Bangladesh and Zambia, whose negotiators have called from the outset for a radically new approach.
They argued that national climate-change trust funds in developing nations should be able to access the Green Climate Fund directly, rather than going through a third party such as the World Bank – which entails long delays, excessive paperwork and similar bureaucratic bottlenecks.
But expressing serious concern about the slow progress registered on reaching a new accord, despite many hours of negotiations, Kabengele explained: “In the light of the approaching deadline of the first commitment period, the African Group expresses its serious concern on the slow progress being made under the AWG-KP, particularly in relation to our work on aggregate emissions reductions numbers and securing the political commitment to a second commitment period.”
He recalled that Africa’s constant position has been that the Kyoto Protocol should continue and expressed “disappointment that some countries are not seriously committed to any future for the agreement.
“Regardless of the views of our partners, the African Group is of the firm view that the planet cannot afford to waste 13 years of negotiations,” Kabengele said, pledging Africa’s co-operation with the chair of the negotiations to ensure that an agreement is reached in Durban.
The Working Group is seeking a new legally-binding agreement on emissions reductions to replace the Kyoto Protocol, which expires next year. Kyoto is the only international, legally-binding agreement and there are fears that if a successor is not found soon, global temperatures could rise above the two degrees level that scientists have warned could threaten the very existence of the planet.
Meanwhile, as the intrigues of the negotiations continue, Canada has continued to receive flaks from civil society and environmental groups over its stance in the negotiations. Many at the COP have accused the Canadians, alongside the Americans of doing everything to frustrate progress at the negotiations. Consequently, the Canadian youth delegation to COP17 has apologised on behalf of its government and Canadians over what it called its country’s “bad behaviour at the COP.” An apology written by Cameron Fenton, Director of the Canadian Youth Climate Coalition, excoriated Canada’s Environment Minister, Peter Kent for the country’s recent rejection of the Kyoto Protocol.
By Kamal Tayo Oropo (Lagos) and Armsfree Ajanaku Onomo (Durban, South Africa)