A number of key African civil society organisations have come together with church development campaigners, to demand billions in compensation from rich countries for the impacts of global warming.
The demand comes at the close of the United Nations climate change talks in Accra, Ghana.
A number of countries, including the Philippines on behalf of the G77 group of developing countries and China, have made proposals for financing a global response to climate change.
During the meetings the European Union was forced to admit that it had nothing significant to put on the table at this point.
"A serious and equitable response to climate change will require rich countries to pay billions in public funds to help poor countries develop in a sustainable, low carbon manner. So why have the EU, which like to claim global leadership in the response to climate change, turned up with empty pockets again?" asked Nelson Muffuh, adviser on the UN climate talks to the UK-baed international development agency Christian Aid.
Acting as a pan-African alliance for climate justice, the African organisations are clear that any response to climate change must see rich countries taking on their full responsibility for the problem.
If average global warming exceeds two degrees Celsius, Africans will face drought, desertification and disease on an unprecedented scale. Christian Aid says in order to avert this catastrophe the industrialised countries must deliver the necessary funds and technology to help African countries protect themselves against the impacts of climate change.
Ewah Eleri, from the International Centre for Energy, Environment and Development in Nigeria said: ‘Developed countries need to demonstrate their seriousness about tackling climate change by committing funds to compensate poor countries for the damage caused by their greenhouse gas emissions and finance clean development. Palliatives will no longer do.’
Christian Aid research indicates that 182 million people in sub-Saharan Africa alone could die of disease directly attributable to climate change by the end of the century. But while African countries are among those most affected by climate change, they also have the least capacity to take part in negotiations like those taking place in Accra.
Countries like Ethiopia and Chad, whose populations are directly under threat from increased drought and disease, can only afford to bring two or three negotiators to major climate summits, whereas the UK brings around 60.
The Accra climate change talks were held to work on a strengthened and effective international climate change deal under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC), as well as on emission reduction rules and tools under the Kyoto Protocol.
This is part of a negotiating process that will conclude in Copenhagen at the end of 2009.