CANCUN, Mexico , December 4, 2010 (ECA) – The decision by Japan not to commit to the Kyoto Protocol beyond 2012 has rattled the African Group at the Cancun climate change conference, provoking angry reactions from some regional non governmental organisations that are attending the UN-sponsored conference.
"The Kyoto Protocol is the only legally binding outcome (LBO) on climate change negotiations, and if Japan and other industrialized countries decide to kill it when it expires in 2012, that means a death penalty for millions of Africans" said a representative from a Burkina Faso NGO.
Speaking to the Information and Communication Service (ICS) of the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) after a group meeting today, Mr. Sawadogo Alfred, President of the NGO SOS Sahel International, a coalition of Burkina Faso national organizations on climate change said that the entire Africa Group in Cancun is "reacting angrily to Japan's decision and would deliver an appropriate response".
Sawadogo explained that when Japan's decision was first announced late Friday, ministers of environment from Algeria, DR Congo and Gambia who were already in Mexico met late into the night with African negotiators and set up a two-man team to prepare an update the African Common Position in the light of the new development.
On Saturday a South African representative delivered a comprehensive update in which he painted bleak prospects for Africa in the current negotiations.
Mr. Alf Wills, deputy director general of International Cooperation in the Ministry of Environment outlined three options which Africa is likely pursue in Cancun. The first is one that seeks a comprehensive package made up of a two-track legally binding outcomes. This is what Africa wants most.
The second option is one of fragmentation by which the legally binding outcomes are abandoned for operational decisions. And the third option left for Africa is the so-called two step middle-of- the road solution that proposes to transfer negotiations from the international community to national entities. Experts fear that under this option, it would be unlikely for any individual African nation to get a fair hearing on the negotiation table.
Wills predicted that the trend at the current level of negotiations is towards fragmentation, characterized by "no movement on increasing ambition or on any legal form".
Given the seriousness of the situation, members of the group suspended Saturday's meeting to allow time for the arrival of more ministers before a thorough review of the situation could be made.
He went on to advise that Africa's ultimate interests would be best served by a multilateral climate change regime which resolves current and future crisis, addresses adaptation as a priority, and simultaneously supports building of future sustainable economic development, competitiveness and growth in a way that enhances social justice and sustainable development on the continent.
That is part of the reason why Africa is bent on a two-track legally binding outcome, based on a convention that developed countries are bound to support; a legal framework for adaptation, the amendment of the Kyoto Protocol high ambition for all to prevent temp increase to 1.5 degrees.
But above all, Africa expects money, technology, capacity building and time for the countries to transition to low carbon economies, and adapt to unavoidable impacts of climate change. African delegates here see this as a legitimate right and not aid, ICS reports.
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