THE United Nations' junior but crucial climate change talks opened in Bonn, Germany, early last week, and, justifiably, African countries raised concern at the lack of serious ambition by developed nations to cut emissions drastically.
The African Group, a coalition of over 50 African countries, including Zimbabwe, representing the continent at international climate change talks, said it was disappointed by the current levels of emission pledges, which risked a warming of up to 6 degrees Celsius by 2100.
Meeting under the banner of the Durban Platform, Africa said developed nations must do more in limiting the growth of greenhouse gases by committing to significant and traceable emission reductions.
"We express our deep concern that the inadequate mitigation pledges remain on the table. They risk temperature increases that will have catastrophic impacts worldwide, and particularly for Africa," said Seyni Nafo, spokesperson of the African Group.
"We call on the developed countries to honour their promises and to unlock progress in the negotiations here in Bonn."
The Durban Platform is one of the many disappointing outcomes from the Durban talks last December, which is seeking a new and legally binding agreement to replace the Kyoto Protocol, but only after 2020.
The Bonn talks will also include negotiations in two other working groups, the Kyoto Protocol and the Long-term Co-operative Action, which looks at finance for mitigation and adaptation.
Workshops of note at Bonn include the one on access to equitable sustainable development as well as the other on scaling up mitigation and adaptation ambitions.
However, negotiations last week raised little hope for greater emission action from developed countries despite assurances for deeper cuts at Durban.
Pledges from the European Union, Norway, New Zealand, Switzerland and the rest of the chief polluting nations ranged from 15 percent to 30 percent until 2020, relative to 1990 levels.
Africa demands cuts of up to 50 percent by the same year and 95 percent by 2050.
Major polluter, the United States, continued with its globally accepted hypocrisy by refusing to commit legally, but instead prioritised national development, as the guiding model for emission cuts.
The US said current emission targets were "not tenable in the real world". Most of the proposed reduction pledges from the developed countries were very thin, socially destructive and inadequate to limit warming to a manageable 2 degrees Celsius.
That is why Africa is desperately shouting for immediate change, although in the complex world of climate change politics, very few are listening attentively.
It is like a voice calling in the dark, distant and faint, as successive international climate change talks have given the continent a raw deal.
And yet, Africa, the least polluter, is always at the forefront of climate catastrophes, which are worsened by lack of mitigatory and adaptive capacity, poverty and funding limitations among other factors.
The endemic incremental nature of the climate negotiations is a major source of worry for the continent, as they prolong action whereas damage from climate disasters stop at nothing.
Analysts say Bonn must deliver on three major aspects: agreeing legally binding and science-based emission targets; deciding on a broad scope for the Durban Platform negotiations; and integrating information from the workshops on equity and ambition.
"Durban allowed developed countries to fudge the exact form of their emission targets for the next period of the Kyoto Protocol," said Alex Rafalowicz of the Climate Justice, an international climate change advocacy organisation.
"Bonn must be the forum where they clarify they will insist on strong rules for emission accounting, they will set science- and equity- based targets, and they will do so in the form of a legally binding Kyoto target to be officially confirmed at Doha. This target must be set for 2017 to allow for an earlier review on progress."
Rafalowicz said the Durban Platform was an opportunity for the world to agree to a comprehensive post-2020 climate treaty.
An agenda for the Platform must, therefore, be agreed at Bonn, he said, without which it risked ignoring important issues such as adaptation and the provision of finance and technology.
However, the African Group felt encouraged by talks on equitable sustainable development, which may result in enhanced social, economic and environmental benefits.
Mr Nafo said: "Africa supported the workshop on equity and believe it advanced the substance of the negotiations. All future measures related to climate change must be in full conformity with the principles of equity and common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities."
Africa expects that the annual UN 2012 Climate Conference (or COP 18) in Doha later this year will result in a strong second five-year commitment period for the Kyoto Protocol, which expires at year-end.
It also expects that non-Kyoto members such as the US and Canada will be pinned down to effect emission reductions that are comparable to those in the second commitment.
"With a second commitment period and strong implementation of what has already been agreed, we can then discuss how to a fair and effective long-term approach on enhanced adaptation and mitigation," Mr Nafo said.
The Bonn climate talks function as a preparatory meeting for the main COP18 negotiations. Most of the elements discussed in Germany will be what constitutes Doha's agenda. Solid agreements at the Bonn talks, which end on Friday (May 25), may, therefore, raise hope for firm agreements at the December talks.
The international negotiations are the world's ungodly response to the devastating impacts of climate change, which has resulted in extreme weather events such as heatwaves, cold winters, floods, droughts, erratic rainfall patterns and rising sea levels among others.
God is faithful.