Tag Archive | "Africa"

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Zenawi Out on His Own in Africa

Posted on 17 December 2009 by editor

Meles Zenawi. Credit: Servaas van den Bosch

Meles Zenawi. Credit: Servaas van den Bosch

By Servaas van den Bosch

COPENHAGEN (IPS/TERRA VIVA) – An announcement by Ethiopia and France yesterday caused consternation among the African countries. Is someone trying to break their ranks to get the continent to sign on to a poor deal, they are asking themselves?

Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi is not a happy man. His head slumped in his hands, the triumphs of Ethiopian agriculture, presented at a side event of the COP, seem to escape him completely. Continue Reading

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“We Need a Strong Voice for Africa”

Posted on 17 December 2009 by editor

Mithika Mwenda. Credit: Nasseem Ackburally/IPS

Mithika Mwenda. Credit: Nasseem Ackburally/IPS

Nasseem Ackburally

COPENHAGEN (IPS/TerraViva) – Ethiopian president Meles Zenawi was chosen by African leaders to champion a united African position.

But Zenawi has provoked outrage from campaigners by issuing a joint statement with French president Nicholas Sarkozy that falls well short of the Africa Group’s demands for emissions cuts or long-term financial commitments to support mitigation, adaptation and other  measures in the developing world. Continue Reading

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Chávez y Morales disparan al Norte

Posted on 16 December 2009 by editor

El gremialista francés José Bové y el presidente de Bolivia, Evo Morales. Crédito: Raúl Pierri/IPS

El gremialista francés José Bové y el presidente de Bolivia, Evo Morales. Crédito: Raúl Pierri/IPS

Por Raúl Pierri

COPENHAGUE (IPS/TerraViva) Los presidentes Evo Morales, de Bolivia, y Hugo Chávez, de Venezuela, dirigieron el miércoles duras palabras a los gobiernos de países ricos, acusándolos de arrastrar al fracaso a la COP-15 por su “egoísmo” y su defensa de la “cultura de la muerte”.

“El objetivo científicamente sustentable de reducir la emisión de gases contaminantes y lograr un convenio de cooperación a largo plazo, a todas luces, hoy a esta hora, parece haber fracasado”, afirmó el mandatario venezolano ante el plenario de la COP-15 (15 Conferencia de las Partes de la Convención Marco de las Naciones Unidas sobre el Cambio Climático). Continue Reading

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“Our Grandchildren Will Ask Us What We Did”

Posted on 07 December 2009 by editor



Local Government Climate Lounge. Credit: Servaas van den Bosch.

Local Government Climate Lounge. Credit: Servaas van den Bosch.

By Servaas van den Bosch


COPENHAGEN (IPS/TerraViva) – Global warming will hit Africa hardest at the local level, yet municipalities are grossly overlooked by the decision-makers in Copenhagen. In response Local Governments for Sustainability (ICLEI) launched a continent-wide declaration on climate change.

“Our grandchildren will ask us what granny did to prepare us for the effects of climate change,” counselor Agnes Ntlhangula reminded an audience of African local government officials. “Global warming will affect Africa in the worst way, because our people use natural resources. Yes, the developed countries should carry us forwards, but we must also take action ourselves.”

The African Local Government Declaration on Climate Change outlines a set of demands and recommendations from local governments in over twenty African countries. Representatives of Ghana, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Namibia, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, Tanzania and Uganda were present at the launch.

“The most immediate goal at this conference is to lobby for inclusion of local governments in the negotiating text,” said ICLEI Africa director Kobie Brand.

To do this, ICLEI has brought over 1100 local counselors, mayors and other representatives to the Danish capital. It’s the second largest delegation at the COP, and many of them are African.

“I am so impressed,” exclaimed ICLEI global president David Cadman. “Africa has to understand that it is an absolute leader when it comes to municipalities working together and getting organized. It needs to take that leadership role in this conference. Talk to your national delegations, urge them to step forward.”

“Politicians will only buy into something when they are supplied with lots of information,” Ntlhangula added.

“The voices of local governments are missing out. Not just here in Copenhagen but everywhere at national level,” argued Cecilia Njenga of the UN Habitat Centre in Nairobi. “It’s clear that we cannot incorporate the adaptation responses to climate change, but we are not there when the money-cake is divided.”

She urged local governments not to sit back in dealing with climate change. “We know that the biggest problems will occur with food security and water provision. Who else than the municipality is responsible for that? We have to think in a more holistic manner in solving these problems.”

“We cannot make the mistake that we made with HIV/AIDS,” warned Ntlhangula. “There we didn’t act until it was much too late. Let’s act on climate change while it’s fresh.”

Cadman said “The risky habits of the North are transferred to Africa, and the effects are floods and droughts alike. Africa has acknowledged this danger and is in the forefront in making the voice of local governments heard. I hope this declaration will become a much wider consensus statement.”

The document calls on Convention Parties to build a pro-poor framing of the global response to climate change and give a central place to cities and towns in mitigation and adaptation. “The African continent has the fastest growing urban population and our urban centres are the site of substantial development pressure, which are at the frontline of response to climate change,” the African Local Government declaration reads.

The flipside of this coin is the potential for African cities to contribute to the fight against global warming. “Imagine how much energy would be saved through a simple measure like installing ceilings in two million low-cost houses,” said Carstens Laugensen, environmental attaché of the Danish Embassy in Pretoria.

Two years ago the Danes initiated the Urban Environmental Management Programme (UEMP) and bankrolled it with 40 million dollars, eighty percent of which will go to implementation.

Municipalities can apply for grants under UEMP through the Ministry of Environment with a budget plan for projects of their own choice. “This is vital,” commented Laugensen. “How would we as Danes know what local solutions are required in Durban or Johannesburg?”

With UEMP money, Cape Town started a climate change think tank that must prepare the city for catastrophes. The city of Durban invested in both urban adaptation projects and community based initiatives in rural areas. Both cities, housing over three million people, are at risk from rising seas levels. Flash floods have badly damaged Durban in recent years.

According to Cadman UEMP can go a long way: “We should roll it out all over the continent.”

“The local governments that do well have to be our voice at a national level,” appealed Njenga. “We need our champions to speak for us.”

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Deal On Forests Likely, But…

Posted on 05 December 2009 by editor

Credit: Fabricio Vanden Broeck

Credit: Fabricio Vanden Broeck

Servaas van den Bosch

WINDHOEK (IPS/TerraViva) – As debate ratchets up ahead of working out a climate change deal, a Dutch study says emissions from deforestation and land degradation are far lower than has been assumed. Will this have an impact on a deal to protect forests in Africa?

Emissions from deforestation and forest degradation had been assumed by parties in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to be around 20 percent of global CO2 output. But a team of Dutch researchers from the Vrije Universiteit (VU) calculate that the true total is closer to 12 percent. Continue Reading

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