African MPs prepare for Copenhagen summit

By Alex Ndegwa

President Kibaki has challenged African States to press for "a fair and just" new global agreement on climate change that caters for the continent’s interests.

Nations are due to meet in Copenhagen in December to negotiate a new deal to succeed the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, which expires in 2012.

Africa is demanding an equitable post-2012 agreement and wants developed nations and the world’s top greenhouse gas emitters to commit more funds to mitigate the effects of climate change in the continent.

Kibaki told African MPs meeting in Nairobi the continent could no longer afford to be a bystander at the crucial talks while the effects of climate change are most severe in the region.

President Kibaki (left) and UNEP Deputy Executive Director Angela Cropper (right) and Eldoret East MP Margaret Kamar at the Second African Parliamentarians Summit on Climate Change at Gigiri in Nairobi, on Tuesday. Photo: Boniface Okendo/Standard

"As a continent, we should be fully involved in the climate debate and negotiations aimed at agreements to give us a fair and just deal that caters for our interests and needs," the Head of State told delegates on Tuesday during the opening of the two-day Second African Parliamentarians Summit on Climate Change at the UN Headquarters in Gigiri.

Greenhouse gas emissions

He said the outcome of the parliamentary forum would be expected to strengthen the African position on climate change ahead of the Copenhagen conference of parties meeting.

The President noted developing countries comprised 80 per cent of the world’s population but accounted for only 20 per cent of the accumulative greenhouse gas emissions.

However, he added, they bore the brunt of the carbon emissions like floods, prolonged drought, diseases, food and water insecurity due to their limited capacity to deal with the situation.

"As a result, those responsible for the greatest greenhouse gas emissions should take the issue of equity even more seriously and ponder over a post Kyoto regime, which is both equitable and readily implementable," said Kibaki.

He urged industrialised nations to make rapid cuts of greenhouse gas emissions, provide funds for third world countries to access climate friendly technology and developing countries to shift to lower carbon use without compromising development.

Compromised production

The President noted projections indicate global warming and attendant increase of pests and diseases will severely compromise agricultural production and food security in Africa.

Noting the Continent is ill prepared to tackle the problem due to poverty, inadequate policies and legal frameworks, Kibaki stressed the need for partnerships and collaboration among nations.

He challenged African States to monitor the driving forces, pressure and impacts of climate change in order to develop appropriate response measures.

Kibaki told African MPs they had an obligation to lead the crusade against actions that lead to adverse climatic change and threaten conditions of the quality of life.

"You have legitimacy to enact policies and laws aimed at ensuring a safe, healthy and sustainable natural environment that serves the needs of humanity as a whole," he said.

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