11 November 2013

Zimbabwe: Cop19 Must Deliver Tangible Outcomes

ZIMBABWE wants to see concrete decisions coming out of the annual UN climate talks, which begin today in Warsaw, Poland.

After weaker-than-expected outcomes, or no outcomes at all on specific targets in previous conferences since 2005, the country expects the 2013 UN Framework Convention on Climate Change's 19th Conference of the Parties meeting (COP19) to prioritise adaptation and mitigation, which will produce predictable and accessible funding for the same.

National climate change co-ordinator in the Ministry of Environment, Water and Climate Mr Washington Zhakata said Zimbabwe had targeted solid outcomes from COP19 in several key areas, but adapting to and mitigating climate impacts was the main goal.

"The position of Zimbabwe does not differ from the general position of the African Group, which outlines the issues of adaptation and mitigation as priority issues," Mr Zhakata said in an interview last week ahead of the COP19 opening, which will close on November 22.

The African Group is a coalition of 53 African countries speaking with one voice at international climate fora. In line with the Group's targets, Zimbabwe wants financial commitments of at least 1,5 percent of the combined Gross Domestic Product of industrialised countries to support and enable adaptation and mitigation actions in developing countries, and a fair and equitable share allocated to Africa, said Mr Zhakata.

That's about US$645 billion, the combined GDP of the 34 nations considered as advanced economies by the International Monetary Fund, which include members of the G7, European Union, and the "newly industrialised Asian economies" - Hong Kong, Singapore, and South Korea.

The world's 150 other nations are considered emerging or developing. In Zimbabwe and across Africa, adaptation and mitigation to climate change remains the biggest challenge because of economies that are agro-based and, therefore, almost simultaneously, violently embittered by the negative impacts of changing climates.

However, promises for funding by industrialised countries have only been half-met since 2005, when the plan was adopted at another COP in Indonesia. That same year, the Kyoto Protocol came into force, binding developed nations, who are historically responsible for fuelling climate change and global warming, to reduce carbon emissions in an effective manner.

Of the US$100 billion pledged by developed countries towards quick start finance in the two years to 2012, only US$30 billion was released, leaving developing countries at greater risk.

Mr Zhakata said Zimbabwe also expects financing outcomes that strengthen its research and systematic observation needs to international standards as well as those that promote investments in cleaner energy sources like solar, hydro, wind and geothermal.

"These forms of energy will reduce demand of electricity from the main grid which is anchored by thermal power generation, a key source category for greenhouse gas emissions in the country," he said.

Other areas of concern include funding for capacity building in the Clean Development Mechanism, impact and vulnerability assessments, and quantification and handling of greenhouse gases information.

Zimbabwe is also worried about the uneven regional distribution of the CDM projects and the uncertainty of the market continuity of emissions trading up to 2020.

Africa's share of participation in CDM projects remain disappointingly low. According to UNFCCC statistics in 2012, about 4 200 CDM projects were expected to be registered by year-end with some three billion Certified Emission Reductions (CERs), a unit equal to 1 000kg of carbon dioxide, planned to be issued out.

Of the anticipated global projects last year, China was expected to register 59 percent of CERs, India 12 percent and Nigeria, Africa's biggest participant, 1,2 percent.

The CDM scheme is a carbon-based compensation for projects that result in reduced carbon emissions. The 2012 projects were expected to remove 2,9 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

Africa at COP19:

At Warsaw, Africa expects to articulate a lot of issues. Some of the major ones are listed below:

Call for ambitious mitigation targets during a second commitment period from 2013 to 2017 of at least 30 percent, and further reduction of emissions by at least 40 percent by 2020, at least 80 to 95 percent by 2050, compared to 1990 levels

Implications of adverse effects of climate change for Africa's security and development should be taken seriously,

Commitment to a science-based approach to limit temperature rise well below 1,5 degrees Celsius and keep Africa safe

Equitable allocation of atmospheric resource (low per capita emissions)

Commitment to outcomes based on the UNFCCC: principles of Common but Differentiated Responsibilities and respective capabilities

Provision of sufficient finance and technology transfer

Developed countries - including non-KP Parties - to undertake legally binding commitments comparable and measurable, reportable and verifiable - with regard to mitigation efforts and the provision of financial and technological resources.

Over the years, the continent's expectations from the UN negotiations have broadly remained constant.

However, given the endemic incremental nature of the talks, and more precisely that developed countries have little respect and interest for Africa's genuine concerns, most of these expectations remain unfulfilled or only, partially met.

In most instances, the continent has been forced to bend over to accommodate unrealistic targets from the West, itself, clearly a dishonest negotiating partner.

At COP18 in Doha, Qatar, last year, Africa managed to secure the extension of the Kyoto Protocol for another five years, one of its key pre-conference targets.

But this was only achieved after much debate. The eventual outcome was severely weakened, as industrialised nations resisted entering the second commitment period without binding participation from those in the developing.

On emissions, the EU plus 10 other industrialised countries refused to take on deeper cuts, maintaining their already inadequate cuts at 20 percent below 1990 levels until 2020.

This group also pushed for a new agreement that includes developing countries to be designed and implemented in 2020, further delaying effective action on emissions.

The question of funding mitigation and adaptation as well as technology transfer, major factors to improving Africa's coping capacity, largely remained hanging.

Mr Zhakata was uninspired at the direction the negotiations were taking.

He said: "To date the developed countries have not yet reduced substantially, their emissions. At the same time, financing for adaptation in developing countries has not been given the priority status that it deserves.

"Discussions have twisted in form, with most developed countries preferring to see the developing countries playing a significant role in reducing emissions, against the key principles of the Convention."

Climate change and global warming have brought unprecedented challenges for livelihoods in developing countries including Zimbabwe. Development and humanitarian assistance, research for development and our whole conception of equity and risk now need to factor in climate change.

The world is desperate to contain the dangerous impact of the science. In its ingenuous desperation and quest for solutions, leaders of this world in 1997 agreed within the auspices of the UN to a global treaty called the Kyoto Protocol, named after the Japanese city of Kyoto where it was signed, to control the production of greenhouse gases. God is faithful.

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