Obama & Sarkozy Pressure Ethiopia to Betray Africa's Future at COP15


The following is a guest post by Jamie Henn of 350.org -- it originally ran on It's Getting Hot In Here

NGOs and civil society groupings are reacting with anger and disappointment to a joint appeal by France and "Ethiopia, representing Africa" for a so-called 'Copenhagen Accord' to result from the current COP15 negotiations being held in the Danish capital. The French / Ethiopian proposal appeared on the French Presidency's website today.

The proposed accord, which would be binding on all parties immediately on signature and lead to a 'legal international instrument' to be agreed 'as early as possible in 2010' ignores the latest science, fails to put forward greenhouse gas concentration targets that will be sufficient to prevent dangerous global warming, and makes a mockery of calls for sufficient funding for climate adaptation and mitigation.In what looks more like conspiracy than coincidence, the announcement by President Sarkozy and Prime Minister Zenawi of Ethiopia comes on the same day the White House is reporting that President Obama called Zenawi to discuss the UN climate talks: "He expressed his appreciation for the leadership role the Prime Minister was playing in work with African countries on climate change, and urged him to help reach agreement at the Leaders summit later this week in Copenhagen."

"The ugly and overt pressure on developing countries to sign an agreement that will put their very survival in jeopardy has begun," said 350.org founder Bill McKibben. "It's very tough to stand up to the Americans, especially Barack Obama. But even the U.S. president can't protect nations against rising waters, withering droughts, and dried-up glaciers. This is the moment for Africa, for island nations, for the developing world to insist on a future."

By calling for an upper limit of temperature increase of 2 degrees Celsius, the Zenawi and Sarkozy proposal ignores the threat that this level represents to Africa: the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's Fourth Assessment Report says that should the average temperature of the globe rise by 2 degrees C, Africa's "median temperature increase would be between 3°C and 4°C, roughly 1.5 times the global mean response" - an extremely dangerous rise. (Source: Contribution of Working Group I to the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report, Chapter 11, Regional Climate Projections, at page 866-867)

"The IPCC science is clear - 2 degrees is 3.5 degrees in Africa - this is death to millions of Africans" said Mithika Mwenda of Pan-African Climate Justice Alliance.

The proposal also makes a mockery of calls for sufficient funding for climate adaptation and mitigation to flow form rich to poor countries. The proposed "fast start" fund, which would pay out $10 billion over the years 2010, 2011 and 2012, is wholly insufficient to address the needs of African countries, many of whom are already suffering massive losses due to climate change. Although it calls for larger and more sustained financing to flow to climate-vulnerable countries from 2013 onwards (paid for by a possible tax on financial transactions and sea and air transport) this call will not be a binding part of the French / Ethiopian proposal. If details do emerge on the finance piece of the deal, there could be a silver lining to this announcement, but as of yet,we aren't seeing or hearing any real figures. One can only hope that Zenawi is still pushing hard for a real financial commitment from developed countries.

"If Prime Minister Meles wants to sell out the lives and hopes of Africans for a pittance - he is welcome to - but that is not Africa's position" Mithika Mwenda.

"Every other African country has committed to policy based on the science. That means at least 45% cuts by rich countries by 2020 and it means $400 billion fast-track finance not $10 billion" said Augustine Njamnshi of Pan-African Climate Justice Alliance. "You cannot say you are proposing a 'solution' to climate change if your solution will see millions of Africans die and if the poor not the polluters keep paying for climate change."

Sarkozy as Napoleon image: Rainmaker via flickr.
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Tags: Barack Obama | Ethiopia | France | Global Climate Change | Global Warming Solutions | United States