It’s your mess – now you pay for it.
That’s the message from African leaders to Western countries as they mull over a proposal to demand tens of billions of dollars in compensation – one figure muted is $67 billion a year – from developed countries for the effects of climate change.
African Ministers have been meeting in Addis Ababa to discuss the proposal as they also demanded a 40 per cent cut by 2012 from the West.
Many would regard the request as not entirely unreasonable. African nations – many of which are amongst the poorest on Earth – are bearing the brunt of a problem that is not of their making. They face increased drought, rising sea level rise and increased water shortages. By 2020, as many as 250 million Africans could be facing a chronic shortage in water.
A final decision on how much compensation Africa will demand will be made a special meeting in Libya at the weekend.
“The proposition is that it has to be an amount significant enough to lead to rapid, sustainable development and industrialisation of developing countries, in particular Africa,” said Lumumba Di-Aping, Sudan’s deputy UN representative.
Africa is also trying to speak as a unified voice on the issue, something it has failed to do so in the past. To this end, African delegates have produced the African Common Position on Climate Change. It was not yet clear who would lead the delegation, but the Ethiopian government has openly requested for the position for the Copenhagen talks.
This is being backed by other countries. Rhoda Tumusime, the African Union’s commissioner for rural economy and agriculture, said Ethiopia, whose Prime Minister Meles Zenawi championed the continent’s climate change concerns at the recent G8 Summit, is likely to be chosen as “representative” in the Libya meeting.
“Ethiopia would be ideal to be the spokesperson of the continent. It is being suggested because its leader understands the issue of climate change”.
In contrast, just how many developed countries really understand the challenge of climate change remains to be seen…