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Kagame pushes Africa’s case for greater climate support

30 September 2009   |   5:27 am
WITH the special United Nations summit on climate change ending last weekend, Rwanda's President Paul Kagame has drummed up international support on behalf of African nations for a concrete pact on climate change, arguing that Africa would be hard hit if no action was taken. He, therefore, called for a shared mitigation and adaptation strategy that would leave no one behind.

Kagame, the only African leader to address the special United Nations session debating Climate Change ahead of the December Copenhagen Summit, told his fellow Heads of State that Africa stood to suffer severe impacts of climate change and yet its resources remained inadequate to manage the challenge.


“Africa will probably have the greater and more severe impacts from climate change than other parts of the world,” Kagame told the UN General Assembly.

“And yet this is very marginally, if at all, a problem of Africa’s making,” Kagame said.

Almost 100 world leaders descended on New York as the UN held its special summit on climate change designed to generate a strong political will and consensus ahead of the Copenhagen Summit.

Kagame said that climate change was no longer a case for the rich industrialised nations, but rather an issue that had to be tackled by the entire global fraternity.

He added that the legacy to solve this problem mainly through carbon trading with the developed world was insufficient and had “not fully integrated the developing world.”

“The current cap and trade process is a disincentive to developing countries to adopt a low carbon dioxide emission pathway,” Kagame said.

Kagame recommended to the assembly a new strategy for ensuring a harmonised and equitable carbon-trading regime, which would benefit all nations and not necessarily the developed ones as the current one does.

To ensure a functioning financing framework on carbon trading, the president recommended that there be a ceiling for carbon emissions per person per year for all nations.

Those with higher emissions, say over two tonnes per person, could offset the emissions by trading off with less emitting nations.

With this, Kagame said that developing countries below the threshold would have a financial incentive to maintain the status by trading with developed countries that exceed their quota.

“The global trade in this ‘commodity’ would eventually yield a carbon dioxide global value in the region of one trillion dollars,” Kagame suggested.

“This strategy guarantees the cap and trade process and would lead to the lowering of emissions, since all countries would have incentives to reduce them,” he said.

U.S. President, Barack Obama said that the world must address climate change now or suffer an “irreversible catastrophe,” insisting that the United States was “determined” to act on global warming.

“Though many of our nations have taken bold actions and share in this determination, we did not come here today to celebrate progress. We came because there is so much more progress to be made. We came because there is so much more work to be done.”

Ban Ki-moon, the UN secretary-general, had called on the world leaders “to accelerate the pace of negotiations and to strengthen the ambition of what is on offer” for a deal at Copenhagen, Denmark.

“Failure to reach a broad agreement in Copenhagen would be morally inexcusable, economically short-sighted and politically unwise,” he said.

Meanwhile, Czech President Vaclav Klaus sharply criticised the U.N. meeting on climate change saying: “It was sad and it was frustrating.” Klaus is known to be one of the world’s most vocal sceptics on the topic of global warming.

“It’s a propagandistic exercise where 13-year-old girls from some far-away country perform a pre-rehearsed poem,” he said. “It’s simply not dignified,” he said.

At the opening of the summit attended by nearly 100 world leaders, 13-year-old Yugratna Srivastava of India told the audience that governments were not doing enough to combat the threat of climate change.

Klaus said that there were increasing doubts in the scientific community about whether humans are causing changes in the climate or whether the changes are simply naturally occurring phenomena.

But politicians, he said, seemed to be moving closer to a consensus on climate change. “The train can’t be stopped and I consider that a huge mistake,” Klaus said.

The special climate summit was hosted to help create momentum before the U.N. meeting in Copenhagen in December that would be expected to reach an agreement on new targets for reducing so-called greenhouse gas emissions.

However, new proposals by China and a rallying cry from U.S. President Barack Obama did little to break a U.N. deadlock about what should be done.

Klaus published a book in 2007 on the worldwide campaign to stop climate change entitled “Blue Planet in Green Chains: What Is Under Threat — Climate or Freedom?”

In the book, Klaus said that global warming had turned into a new religion, an ideology that threatens to undermine freedom and the world’s economic and social order.