Durban — Africa has changed 'the ball game' after a week of vacillation, by demanding an ambitious second commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol, effective action under the Bali Action Plan and scaled-up 'start up' finance ahead of the high-level international ministerial segment of the UN climate talks later this week.
The decision to change tack came after the African Ministerial Conference on Environment (Amcen) convened an emergency meeting at the weekend, and when they decided they will not continue to 'chase the ball' when it was apparent developed nations had failed to provide 'environment leadership'.
The African group chaired by Democratic Republic of Congo's Tosi Mpanu-Mpanu said the latest science showing severe threats to African food security; developments in the negotiations; and a strategy to ensure the outcomes of the Durban climate conference are comprehensive enough to protect Africans from the worst effects of climate change.
The African Common Position on Climate Change, which was agreed to in Bamako, Mali, in September highlights key positions that Amcen is advancing at the wobbly COP 17 negotiations.
Mpanu-Mpanu told journalists at a press conference that Africa will be hit first and hardest by global climate change, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The continent has contributed the least to climate change, and is among the least equipped to adapt its adverse effects.
More than one billion Africans, and millions of others living on small islands, least developed and other vulnerable countries will bear the potentially catastrophic consequences of land loss, food and water shortages, crop reduction, and flooding, he said.
He also said mitigation and adaptation measures in Africa should fully conform with the principles and provisions of the UN and the Kyoto Protocol.
As a result, the African ministers said the UN climate talks should produce two outcomes in line with the Bali Roadmap, regarding an agreed outcome on long-term cooperative action to enhance the implementation of the Convention, and an amendment to the Kyoto Protocol regarding further mitigation commitments for a second commitment period from 2013 to 2017.
"Developed country parties to the Kyoto Protocol must honour their commitments through ambitious mitigation commitments for a second and subsequent commitment periods. They must reduce their emissions of greenhouse gases by at least 40% during the second commitment period from 2013 to 2017, and by at least 95% by 2050, compared to 1990 levels, as an equitable and appropriate contribution," Mpanu-Mpanu said.
"We stress the urgency of agreeing to a second commitment period in Durban and of elaborating measures to avoid a gap between commitment periods. We call on developing countries to ensure the environmental integrity of their emission reduction commitments, and to guarantee an equitable and appropriate level of domestic emission reductions, by closing existing loopholes, limiting the use of carbon markets and project-based mechanisms to 10% of their commitments, and ensuring additional carbon credits."
The African ministers call come as the UN climate talks enters its final week, which could see the highly politicized debates make or break the elusive deal following the refusal by the US to sign and Canada's sentiments that the Kyoto Protocol is "dead".
With the arrival of high profile politicians today, negotiations are expected to move up a gear in an effort to either extend the Kyoto Protocol, or strike another middle ground deal as the 'Durban Accord' looks difficult to pin down.
Amcen expressed concern about the insufficient transparency and slow disbursement of the financial resources pledged by developed countries as "fast start" finance for the period 2010-2012, and indications are that only a small proportion of these resources are "new and additional".
Emily Massawa of the Amcen Secretariat added: "Ministers have noted the pledge by developed countries to mobilise jointly $100 billion per year by 2020, and reiterate Africa's position that developed countries should by the year 2020, provide scaled up financial support based on an assessed scale of contributions that constitutes at least 1,5% of their gross domestic product, in order to curb climate change and meet the needs of developing nations to tackle climate change and its adverse effects."