Africa's low ambitions on climate finance 'disappointing'

By staff writers
December 17, 2009

The proposal made yesterday at the climate talks in Copenghagen by the Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, for a climate finance package which cut original demands by 75 per cent, has been branded 'disappointing' by campaigners.

Meles announced at a meeting that the Africa Group, which earlier this week demanded $400 billion per year from rich nations to help cope with climate impacts, had lowered its figure to $100 billion.

This position is receiving strong criticism from other African nations.

Partners of the Catholic aid agency Cafod in developing nations, have demanded a minimum $195 billion per year long-term finance, alongside rich countries’ emissions cuts of at least 40 per cent, to facilitate adaptation and mitigation against climate change and the move to a greener economy.

They suggest that if finance is significantly below this figure, the only way developing countries can be protected from climate impacts will be a concomitant reduction in carbon emissions.

Liz Gallagher, CAFOD’s climate finance specialist, said: “At this late stage of the negotiations, this figure being tabled by Africa is disappointing to say the least.

”Such a turn-around on the level of finance being asked for by Africa points to the influence of some of the big powers behind the scenes. To slash the figure from $400 billion to $100 billion is a high-risk strategy – on the one hand Africa could be showing its willingness to compromise; but on the other it is placing its trust in the US and other developed countries to deliver on finance here in Copenhagen. These countries have failed to stump up vital cash to date, so whether this strategy is wise or naive remains to be seen.”

Prime Minister Meles also announced the creation of a high-level committee to explore any viable options for raising long-term climate finance. This included a six-month timeline for reporting back.

Gallagher added: “The support from developing countries for new ways to find finance streams gives a boost to ensuring that this money will not be raided from the aid budgets, but be additional to the targets already set by developed countries.

“But the issue still remains that without drastic emissions cuts from developed countries, this amount of money will not keep Africa safe from the devastating effects of climate change.”

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