Copenhagen: Africa denounces rich countries

November 6, 2009 at 9:42 pm Leave a comment

African nations have walked out of climate talks in Barcelona on November 3, blaming rich nations for undermining the negotiations. The Barcelona meeting was the final international meeting before the UN-sponsored climate conference in Copenhagen in December.

The chairperson of G77 group of poor nations Lumumba Di-Aping said rich countries had refused to put serious emissions cuts targets on the table, the November 5 Guardian reported.

“We call on developed countries to step up to the challenge”, he said. “We believe they have a moral, financial and political responsibility to live up to the challenge”.

African nations have said an emissions cut target of 40% (on 1990 levels) by 2020 is the absolute minimum needed to prevent runaway climate change. However, the aggregate offer from countries such as Australia, the European Union and the US is only 16%.

Greenpeace Australia’s John Hepburn said the Australian delegation had helped provoke the walkout in a November 4 post on Crikey.com’s Rooted blog.

He said the African delegation walked out of the Barcelona conference following a meeting between African nations and the infamous “umbrella” group of big polluters. The “umbrella” group is chaired by Australia. The bloc was accused of helping to scuttle a strong agreement at last year’s climate talks in Poznan, Poland.

The world’s richest and biggest polluting nations are already downplaying chances of a strong agreement to limit climate change at December’s Copenhagen conference. However, it is likely they will attempt to blame developing countries for a bad outcome.

But the Rainforest Action Movement’s Joshua Kahn Russell said the African nations’ walkout was justified.

“So the shit is hitting the fan”, he wrote in Grist.org on November 3. “And Africa isn’t taking it. We should applaud their courage, and be skeptical anytime the media tries to shift the blame for the breakdown of negotiations onto G77 countries. Make no mistake, these talks have been polluted by self-interested corporations and governments.”

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