The African Group of Negotiators leading the continent’s climate change agenda at the ongoing COP 17 in Durban, South Africa, say November 29, 2011 that they will vow not to bury the Kyoto Protocol in Africa.
The Kyoto Protocol is an international agreement linked to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The Protocol sets binding targets for 37 industrialized countries and the European community for reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. These amount to an average of five per cent against 1990 levels over the five-year period 2008-2012, according to the UNFCCC.
Recognizing that developed countries are principally responsible for the current high levels of GHG emissions in the atmosphere as a result of more than 150 years of industrial activity, UNFCCC says the Protocol places a heavier burden on developed nations under the principle of “common but differentiated responsibilities.”
In this sense, the negotiators made up of 53 African countries have pledged support for the Protocol to be enhanced on the continent.
“Africa will not become the graveyard of the Kyoto Protocol”, Mr. Victor Kabengele wa Koudilu, one of the chairs of the Group and lead negotiator of the Democratic Republic of Congo announced at the opening session of the Ad-hoc Working Group on the Kyoto Protocol (AWG-KP) at the COP 17 talks in Durban, South Africa.
According to a press statement issued by the Information and Communication Service of the UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), Mr. Kabengele urged Parties to work towards a binding agreement in Durban declaring that: “The African Group would like to state loud and clear that it will not allow African soil to become the graveyard of the Kyoto Protocol.”
The ECA said Mr Kabengele reiterated Africa’s position, adopted by the African Heads of State and government that developed countries should “take ambitious, legally-binding, quantified emissions reduction commitments in the second commitment period of at least 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2020; and between 80 – 95 percent by 2050.”
He expressed serious concern about the slow progress registered on reaching a new accord, despite many hours of negotiations.
“In the light of the approaching deadline of the first commitment period, the African Group expresses its serious concern on the slow progress being made under the AWG-KP, particularly in relation to our work on aggregate emissions reductions numbers and securing the political commitment to a second commitment period,” he was quoted as saying.
Mr. Kabengele recalled that Africa’s constant position has been that the Kyoto Protocol should continue and expressed “disappointment that some countries are not seriously committed to any future for the agreement.”
“Regardless of the views of our partners, the African Group is of the firm view that the planet cannot afford to waste thirteen years of negotiations,” he said, pledging Africa’s cooperation with the chair of the negotiations to ensure that an agreement is reached in Durban.
According to the ECA, it has learned that the Working Group is seeking a new legally-binding agreement on emissions reductions to replace the Kyoto Protocol, which expires next year.
Kyoto is the only international legally-binding agreement and there are fears that if a successor is not found soon, global temperatures could rise above the two degrees level that scientists have warned could threaten the very existence of the planet, the agency says.
By Ekow Quandzie