Ethiopia’s PM Talks Strong on Upcoming Climate Deal

September 4th, 2009 | by addis portal |

Ethiopia’s Prime Minster, Meles Zenawi, says Africa’s voice will not be subdued in the new global climate deal expected from the December UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen.
Meles, who, on August 31, has been approved by African leaders during their meeting in Tripoli, Libya, to head the continent’s single negotiating team – the Conference of African Heads of States and Government on Climate Change (CAHOSCC) – made such strong statements at the Special Session of the African Partnership Forum on climate change (APF) held September 3 in Addis Ababa.
“Africa’s interest and position will not be muffled as has usually been the case when each African country speaks for itself or tries to do so on behalf of Africa without the necessary mandate. We want and deserve to be in the thick of it all. We will not participate to merely adorn the positions of this or that party but to protect our common interest and with [it] that of the specific interest of Africa,” he told the participants of the Special Session.
But that was not the strongest statement Meles made yesterday.
“If needs be we are prepared to walk out of any negotiations that threatens to be another rape of our continent,” said Meles.
While some African leaders focus on compensations for climate change impacts from developed world, for Meles the issue is different.
“Our interest is not to claim compensation for climate and its damages. [It] is to prevent that from happening in the first instance. That is our primary interest precisely because Africa’s eco-systems are amongst the most fragile in the world and hence highly vulnerable to catastrophic changes due to small changes in temperature. It makes no sense to us for someone to make large parts of our continent unliveable and pay some compensation for doing so.”
For the first time in history, Africa will be represented by a single negotiating team empowered to negotiate on behalf of all the member states of African Union.
“[The] over fifty countries, more than ¼ of the member states of the UN will be speaking in one voice,” Meles said.
His walk out warning to use African countries’ number “to deligitimize” any deal not consistent with their interest, is likely to have even more impact because the AU and G 77 have already struck deal to follow one another’s step in Copenhagen.

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