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Climate change: What is at stake for Africa?

Africa bears little responsibility for climate change, says Rachel Odengo, but the continent is bearing the brunt of its effects. It’s time for an equitable arrangement that will help poor countries adapt to global warming.
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The twelfth conference of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC COP 12) is being held in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, from 6-17 November 2006. Delegates from more than 180 nations are gathering to discuss climate change – one of the biggest challenges facing the human race. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Africa will be the continent most impacted by global warming – and human activity is largely responsible. But what role will Africa play in the talks?

Almost all African countries have signed and ratified the Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Kyoto Protocol. But the continent is still poised to suffer worst from the impacts of climate change. Campaigners are holding world governments responsible for not taking adequate measures to reduce their levels of greenhouse-gas emissions. A failure to act on emissions is already adversely affecting many countries in Africa, resulting in water scarcity, drought, persistent floods and other terrible consequences.

This year, Kenya experienced a period of extreme drought. Thousands of people lost their property and some lost their lives. The country has barely recovered from the terrible floods of 1997, but meteorologists say that El Niño floods may hit in the New Year. The snowcaps of Mount Kenya and Mount Kilimanjaro are melting at a rate unprecedented in history, leading to local water shortages. Malaria has also increased in highland areas, where it was not prevalent before.

The Turkana region of northwest Kenya – some of the most dry and inhospitable territory on earth – has felt the brunt of climate change’s effects on Kenya. The Turkana people are pastoralists whose way of life is adapted to the harsh environment. They are constantly on the move in search of waterholes and available pasture on which to graze their animals during the dusty nine months between one rainy season and the next. The rainy season, known as the akipiro, may arrive any time between the months of March and June. But this year, the akipiro has not been sufficient to allow for the full regeneration of pasture and the replenishment of waterholes. Gzahegn Kebede, Oxfam’s chief programmes manager in Kenya, says most communities in northern Kenya do not have the capacity to cope with abnormal weather conditions. “Drought has been more damaging to households in northern parts of Kenya than any form of protracted conflict,” says Kebede. When it rains, serious flooding can be disastrous for people living on drought-parched land.

Effects of drought seen in Namibia, southern Africa

photo by Mike

A recent forum of Kenyan civil society groups argued that African countries are suffering the consequences of “luxury emissions” from industrialised countries, while they are still far from achieving industrialisation themselves. Grace Akumu, from Climate Network Africa, says: “At the [UNFCC] conference we do not want diversionary measures. When Africans are dying because of luxury emissions emanating from industrialised countries, we want serious business.” She adds: “It is a question of life and death.”

There is much to be done to make a more equitable agreement on climate change. Discussing the implementation of the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), which is supposed to advance sustainable development and equality for poor countries, Akumu feels Africa has been let down. “Africa had only five [CDM] projects by September this year, while the remaining 500 projects are in Europe and the other developing countries in Latin America and Asia,” she says. Akumu argues that African governments should take the lead in opposing similarly inequitable development programmes.

One of the key UN Millennium Development Goals is to halve the world’s population of people living in hunger by 2015. But there are fears that this could be made impossible by climate change. Global warming’s main culprits should provide resources to help the societies that will suffer the most to adapt. But the responsibility should not just lie in the hands of rich nations. As Jesse Mugambi of the World Council of Churches argues: “Our climate is in crisis; it is our survival but also our responsibility. Despite the role that should be played by industrialised countries, it is our responsibility to deal with the problem of global warming that is with us.” Mugambi says that any agreement following 2012, when the Kyoto Protocol’s term is up, should involve special funds to help vulnerable communities adapt to climate change. He says that helping with adaptation is not a question of charity but one of equity. Since developed countries have been able to achieve growth at the expense of others, it is only fair to compensate the poorest who are suffering as a result.

Andrew Pendleton of Christian Aid told me that British campaigners are putting pressure on the UK government to compensate poor countries for the damage done by greenhouse gas emissions in industrialised countries. “Tony Blair needs to put his money and policies where his mouth is,” says Pendleton. He adds that industrialised nations should support the development of clean, low-carbon technologies in poor countries.

Despite efforts made to engage Africa in climate politics, there is little in terms of implementation of climate-change measures on the continent. African countries should now take the lead in according climate change its rightful importance in the public sphere.

Rachel Odengo is a reporter for the Kenya Broadcasting Corporation

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Default avatar
匿名 | Anonymous



China and Africa

The recent China Africa summit in Beijing was very impressive and there was a grat deal of talk about investment. But this article shows that what Africa needs is urgent action on climate change. Otherwise any economic gains will be wiped out. Is China building in environmental and climate change conditions to the aid to Africa? Is China insisting on good governance in Africa so that effective measures can be implemented? Money and investiment are good, but they will just go into the pockets of corrupt leaders in Africa unless there is serious oversight on the part of the donors and investors.

Default avatar
匿名 | Anonymous



How about the remedy for China?

This article represents a clear idea that developed countries need to help poor and vulunerable African nations better adapt to climate change. In comparison, what are developed countries' remedies for China, which, as a global factory,is blamed for emissions and meanwhile suffers largely from the pollution. Who should be actually blamed for China's sufferings? Will it be true that what happens to China today will happen to Africa in half a or a century?

Default avatar
匿名 | Anonymous


给予遭到气候变化影响的市民那特别的基金, 听来似乎是一单滑稽的交易, 是值得争论的。那该如何断定这环境问题是由 “全球性气候变化” 所造成的, 或者单只是任何对地球的气侯有负面影响, 而我们还未能理解的因素呢? 令人可悲的是, 一些国家譬如中国,可能在排放贸易制度上受惠, 协助缓和气候变化, 然而, 非洲国家却无法同行一致以达到减排。最好的理由是别对排放贸易制度抱有太大的希望。Jess - 纽约

Special compensation for climate change?

Special funds to groups affected by climate change sounds like a tricky business, worth some debate. How can it be determined whether a given environmental problem is due to "global climate change"--or is that now just a label for anything bad that happens to the earth's climate that we don't understand? It is a sad irony that countries like China may benefit from emissions trading schemes, helping to pay for their adaptation to climate change... while African nations will not be able to, not having emissions yet to cut. A good reason not to base too much on emission trading schemes.

-Jess, New York

Default avatar
匿名 | Anonymous



Prime time for Africa!!

Compared with China and other developing countries in Asia, African nations are much lucky. China is a living example for Africa to learn lessons from the development fuelled by the investment from the West, especially in the environment protection. Though there is still a long way for African nations to go to match up to the advancement of current China, but hopefully they will not follow the steps of China to attract overseas investment to fuel its economy without enough attention to its environment. Hopefully African countries are wary of investment from the West which will potentially and desperately lead to the plunder and damage of rich resouces in Africa.

I want to say to Afrian people:
Grasp the opportunties but not lose your control! --- DD

Default avatar
匿名 | Anonymous


首先, 缓和气候变化专门基金与排放贸易并非相似, 两者都不属于是一种补偿!一些面对日益严重气候变化的发展中国家, 由于受到科技和经济方面的拘束, 这项专门基金是为了协助它们提高抗击气候变化的能力而设的。防洪措施、有干旱抗性的作物及改善水和食物供应等,都是这项专门基金的宗旨。排放贸易则是另一种方法来协助减低对碳排放量的成本。然而, 这还需要关键性的条件以达到要求的效果, 首先, 未必是令人满意。尽管难以达到欧盟排放贸易制度所规定, 我无可否认这对将来减低碳排放量有所贡献。但是,怎么样和几时将这市场扩大至发达国家, 毕竟还是个未知数。具有讽刺意味的是, 此项碳排放贸易制度自从70年代开始由美国发起, 以抗击二氧化硫(SO2)排放和酸雨。显然地, 美国环境保护署(EPA)相信这是一项非常成功的政策, 许多经济学家和政治家都有同感。

special fund for climate change adaptation and emission trading scheme

First of all, the special fund for climate change adaptation is not something similar to emission trading, and neither of them is compensation at all! The special fund is set to help increasing the ability of adaptation in developing countries which are specially vulnerable facing the consequences of climate change due to technological and economic constraints. Flood defense, drought resistant crops and improving their access to water & food etc., are all objectives of the special funds. Emission trading is another instrument which helps to reduce the cost of carbon emission reduction. To work well, this needs some critical conditions which is not necessarily satisfied at the first place. Despite the difficulties met in the EU Emission Trading Scheme (EU ETS), I have not doubt this will make its contribution to carbon reduction in the future. But how and when to extend this market wider to include developing countries still remains question. Ironically, the emission trading scheme initiated from US at the beginning, to combat the SO2 emission and acid rain since 1970s. Apparently, the US environment protection agency (EPA) believes it is a very successful policy instrument, so do many economists and politicians.

Tao Wang
Sussex Energy Group & Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research

Default avatar
匿名 | Anonymous


”令人可悲的是, 一些国家譬如中国,可能在排放贸易制度上受惠, 协助缓和气候变化, 然而, 非洲国家却无法同行一致以达到减排。最好的理由是别对排放贸易制度抱有太大的希望”。这论点中有个错误。正是因为非洲国家的排放量比世界别国的少极了,他们能够将剩余的碳排放售给美、中等排放量最多的国家。如此,他们会得到财务收入来推动其未来的发展。那么,这当然依靠我们“世界领袖”在世界各国如何分配许可证。

How Africa can benefit

"It is a sad irony that countries like China may benefit from emissions trading schemes, helping to pay for their adaptation to climate change... while African nations will not be able to, not having emissions yet to cut. A good reason not to base too much on emission trading schemes."

There is a mistake in the discussion here. Just because African nations now have much lower carbon emission than the other countries, they will be able to sell out their surplus carbon emission permits to the world biggest emitters such as US and China. In this way they receive the financial revenue for their further development. But of course, this really depends on how our "world leaders" allocate the permits among the countries.

Tao Wang
Sussex Energy Group & Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research

Default avatar
匿名 | Anonymous

回复: 非洲受惠的方式

谢谢您的澄清。然而, 对于排放许可证的分配, 其基本原则又是指什么呢? 同时, 怎样防止非洲国家认为出售排放额的利润是可观的, 就打个比方说, 制造业和建筑业? 至少目前中国看来是“清洁发展机制”下的其中一个主要受惠国,而只需要付诸少数类似在非洲的计划。

Re: How Africa can benefit

Thanks for the clarification, Tao. But what is meant to be the basis for allocation of permits? And what is to prevent African nations from finding the sale of credits to be more lucrative than, say, factory construction? It seems at present like China is one of the major beneficiaries of CDMs at least, with only a handful of projects in Africa.

Default avatar
匿名 | Anonymous


清洁发展机制(CDM),是一种进行特殊生产的投资,这种机制下,工业化国家可以购买并使用经核证的减排量(CER)。为什么中国现在比非洲有更多CDM项目,为什么越来越多的外国投资者相继到中国而不是非洲从事制造业以及其他方面的建设,在我看来,这两种情况发生的原因是相似的。尤其是,CDM项目的排放量,需要获得执行理事会的认可,这个理事会根据《联合国气候变化框架公约》成立。这就需要在CDM项目国家之间有一个可靠的投资环境和稳定的政策形势。CDM项目不仅仅由政府投资,许多项目是私人资本投资的,他们总是追求最大利润和长期的良好回报。CDM项目也要求收益国家的能力建设。我想,大量“中国制造”的商品也许有助于回答这个问题,尽管这种情况无论对世界还是对中国本身都不是那么好的。二氧化碳排放许可证与CDM不同,能够在排放贸易制度中进行贸易,但经核证的减排量(CER)又是由CDM产生的。要分配许可证,一个办法就是人均分配工业二氧化碳的排放权,而不是现在总是逐渐移向远期的目标,这就是“紧缩与趋同”(C&C)。我不是这方面的专家,也知道许多人有不同的看法,但至少这是一种可能。基本原则仍然没有取得认同,要在全球对排放贸易制度获得认同,还十分遥远。Tao Wang

CDM needs better investment environment

CDM, per se, is an investment to produce the special output, Certified Emission Reductions (CER), from the project that the industrialized country could buy and use for themselves. So the reasons why there are many CDM projects in China currently while much less in Africa, in my point of view, are similar to those why there are much more foreign investment flowing to China for manufacturing, constructions and everything else, rather less to Africa. In particular, the product of CDM project, the emission allowance, has to be certified by the CDM Executive Board (CDM EB) regulated by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). This requires a reliable and investment environment and stable political condition in the countries of CDM project. The CDM project is not only invested by government, many of them are invested through private capital, which always seeks for the maximized profit and promising return in the long term. The CDM project also requires capacity building in the beneficiary countries. I think the massive volume of goods "made in China" could help to answer this question, although this is not a so good phenomenon to the world, nor to China itself.

The allocation of carbon emission permit, again, is a different thing to CDM, but the CER generated by CDM, can be traded within the emission trading scheme. To allocate the permits, one of the ideas is to have an equally distributed carbon emission permit per capita, not now but gradually moving towards the target in the future. This is called Contraction & Convergence (C&C). I am not an expert of this and also know many people have different ideas. But at least this is one of the possibilities. The basic principle has not yet been agreed. The world also has not reached an agreement on the emission trading scheme itself, and how far it could reach.

Tao Wang

Default avatar
匿名 | Anonymous

CDMs & 非洲


CDMs & Africa

"It seems at present like China is one of the major beneficiaries of CDMs at least, with only a handful of projects in Africa"

The way it works fro private investors is as follows:
1. you find an industrial project that could be made to emit less
2. you get the UNFCCC to accept your methodology for calculating how much carbon you'll be saving
3. you invest in the kit that gives the saving
4. you collect your emmission reduction credit
5. you sell it, maybe on the European trading scheme.

So yes, you need a good climate for investment. But you also need lots of low-efficiency projects already in place. So a lightly industrialised continent like Africa will have fewer oportunities than Asia for generating credits.


Default avatar
匿名 | Anonymous


〔英籍华人〕陈一文〔[email protected]
中国地球物理学会天灾预测专业委员会 顾问


摘要∶揭示“能源与大气污染”综合复杂巨系统问题中世界绝大部分科学技术界人士以及所有企业界人士至今尚未认识的核心问题,指出矿物燃料与各种新型燃料的过量燃烧,不仅造成“温室效应à全球温暖”一种恶果,而且造成全球“温室效应à全球温暖”与大气“氧气枯竭”两种恶果;介绍地球大气中氧和二氧化碳的形成和变化;回顾地球历史中大气含氧量发生过重大波动及其对生物圈的巨大影响;揭示全球大气含氧量不断降低的科学证据;警告“氧气枯竭”问题的严重危害;揭示“氢能源、氢经济”严重加剧大气 “氧气枯竭”指出大城市与经济发达地区大气“氧气枯竭”问题最为严重!综述了西方医学专家、营养专家、生物化学家就缺氧对人类健康与疾病影响的结论性意见;提出大气“氧气枯竭”的科学定义与科学意义。强调《城市生活质量》的首位评价指标必须是包括含氧量水平的《城市空气质量》,揭示中国政府颁布的《大气环境质量标准》存在严重缺陷和片面性,呼吁中国《大气环境质量监测标准》必须增加对二氧化碳浓度与含氧量的监测。

Atmospheric “Oxygen Depletion” is an Even More Disastrous Consequence than the “Global Green House Effect” to the Continuance Healthy Survival of Mankind

(British) Chen I-wan ([email protected]) Advisor, Committee of Natural Hazard Prediction for China Geophysics Society Advisor, Comm. of Disaster Historical Studies for China Disaster Prevention Association Editor's note: This paper was published in the Collection of Papers distributed by The 3rd (Shanghai) Environment Protection & New Energy Forum (Oct. 30 - 31, 2006, Shanghai International Conference Center). Abstract: Reveals the core issue of the comprehensive complex massive system problem of “energy & atmospheric pollution” today is still unrecognized by most members of the world science and technology community and all members of the world industry: Excessive burning of fossil fuel and “new fuels” not only causes disastrous consequence of “green house effect à global warming”, but at the same time also cause another disastrous consequence of atmospheric “oxygen depletion”. Reviews the formation and changes of the oxygen and carbon dioxide contained in the Earth’s atmosphere; and the dramatic fluctuation of atmospheric oxygen content during the Earth’s history and serious effect on the biosphere; presents science evidence of continuance reduction of global atmospheric oxygen content; warns that “Hydrogen Energy, Hydrogen Economy” will more seriously cause atmospheric “oxygen depletion”. Stress that most serious atmospheric “oxygen depletion” problem exists in major cities and advance developed economic regions! Summarizes conclusive opinions by Western medical and nutrition experts, biochemists on the effects of lack of oxygen to human health and illnesses, proposes scientific definition and significance of atmospheric “oxygen depletion”. Emphasizes the top priority evaluation parameter of “city life environment quality” must be the “city atmosphere quality” including the atmospheric oxygen content level. Reveals the “Atmospheric Environment Quality Standard” issued by the Chinese Government contains serious error and limitation, call for the Chinese government to also include monitoring of atmospheric carbon dioxide and oxygen content to the “Monitoring Standard of Atmospheric Environment Quality” of China.