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Copenhagen: African countries threaten walk out on confab

Bella Center, the conference venue for COP15. Photo: Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark
Bella Center, the conference venue for COP15. Photo: Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark

By  Eze Anaba in  Copenhagen

African countries in a dramatic move yesterday morning threatened to walk out of the ongoing United Nations framework conference on climate change, UNFCCC, holding in Copenhagen, Denmark,  following fears that developed countries are   planning to sabotage the process by abandoning the Kyoto protocol which binds the developed countries to certain levels of gas emissions.

The African countries led by Nigeria and Algeria said at a press conference yesterday morning addressed by Kamal Ichalil of Nigeria who was flanked by Victor Fodeke of Nigeria, that they were disappointed with the move by the developed countries.

The African countries feared that the developed countries are trying to collapse the Kyoto protocol and pursue other non binding agreement.

The Kyoto protocol was adopted on December 11 1997 in kyoto Japan and it entered into force on February 16,2005.

As at November 2009 187 states have ratified the protocol. The two most notable non-members of the protocol is the United States which is a signatory of the UNFCCC and was responsible for 36.1% of the 1990 emission levels.

Under the Protocol, 37 industrialized countries (called “Annex I countries”) commit themselves to a reduction of four greenhouse gases (GHG) (carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, sulphur hexafluoride) and two groups of gases (hydrofluorocarbons and perfluorocarbons) produced by them, and all member countries give general commitments.

Minister of Environment, Mr. John Odey (right) at the African Minister's  meeting , at the ongoing United Nations Conference onClimate Change (UNFCCC), Copenhagen, Denmark.

Minister of Environment, Mr. John Odey (right) at the African Minister’s meeting , at the ongoing United Nations Conference onClimate Change (UNFCCC), Copenhagen, Denmark.

Annex I countries agreed to reduce their collective greenhouse gas emissions by 5.2% from the 1990 level. Emission limits do not include emissions by international aviation and shipping, but are in addition to the industrial gases, chlorofluorocarbons, or CFCs, which are dealt with under the 1987 Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer.

The benchmark 1990 emission levels were accepted by the Conference of the Parties of UNFCCC (decision 2/CP.3) [2] were the values of “global warming potential” calculated for the IPCC Second Assessment Report.

These figures are used for converting the various greenhouse gas emissions into comparable CO2 equivalents when computing overall sources and sinks.

Each Annex I country is required to submit an annual report of inventories of all anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions from sources and removals from sinks under UNFCCC and the Kyoto Protocol.

The Africans said that the developed countries cannot commit themselves to the Kyoto protocol which is a reduction of the green house gases  and at this meeting now seek to abandon the kyoto protocol.

Kamal Ichalil said that the developed countries want to kill the kyoto agreement because they don’t want anything to be binding on them.

This developement has sparked off fears that talks at the conference will be abandoned.

Victor Fodeke of Nigeria who is leading Nigeria’s talks at the conference said that Africa is dying from the effect of climate change and that if nothing is done Africans will die of hunger. The move is seen as another form of colonialism.

Africa’s move has received the support of international groups like the World Wide Fund for Nature, WWF, which the said that the ” binding character of the Kyoto protocol gives developing nations the confidence that these talks will not end as an informal discussion.

If we want a fair , ambitious and binding deal we need to keep working both on the Kyoto protocol and a second protocol”


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