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Developing nations losing climate war

The United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon last Tuesday, eight days after the 12-day talks officially began and just a few days before they came to a close, admitted that efforts towards securing a binding climate deal were proving very difficult.

It became clear then that developing nations would remain on the losing end and that all the noise about the COP 17 meeting was nothing more than just another opportunity to waste more resources, yielding nothing really … at least for the most affected and vulnerable.

China, the world’s largest carbon emitter, even had the nerve to initially set conditions, in clear disregard of the Kyoto Protocol agreements.
China insisted it was prepared to agree to a legally binding deal to cut on its emissions only after 2020, about eight years from now. Anyone care to imagine the extent of damage climate change would have had on a continent like Africa by then?

The European Union, on the other hand, felt the best it could do was propose a “road map” on reaching targets, outlining a legal climate agreement to be signed by 2015, and only to be put into force by 2020. Most African environmental groups were obviously opposed to this suggestion preferring instead a second commitment period to the Kyoto Protocol.

As there was no indication of going forward, all hope lay in the Kyoto Protocol.

Russia, Canada, Japan, and the US, the major COP 17 saboteurs, are clearly opposed to the idea of maintaining terms of the Kyoto Protocol and even if they were to be “forced” to adhere to it, there is no guarantee they would comply.

Many could by now be wondering what the Kyoto Protocol is in the first place and why the “super powers” are so opposed to it. I will attempt to explain.

Prior to the game-changing Kyoto Protocol, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) was held in March 1994 and governments in the developed world were forced to acknowledge that climate change and global warming were becoming a huge problem that needed to be tackled as a matter of urgency.

During the UNFCCC, developed nations agreed to “launch national strategies for addressing greenhouse gas emissions and adapting to expected impacts, including the provision of financial and technological support to developing countries”.

In a follow-up to the UNFCCC, the parties met in Kyoto, Japan on December 11 1997, and established what became known as the Kyoto Protocol, which was entered into force on February 16 2005. The protocol, unlike the UNFCCC, not only encouraged industrialised countries to stabilise greenhouse gases, it committed them to do so! In other words, it was legally binding and obligated developed nations to assist developing nations.

And that is why saboteurs to the COP 17 have problems with sticking with terms of the protocol. They are not willing to continue cutting on emissions and they are not ready to own up to their obligation to fund mitigation and adaptation programmes in the poorer countries that are expected to experience the full wrath of climate change, in spite of having done the least to cause it.

The much-talked-about Green Climate Fund has clearly turned into an empty shell and prospects of developing nations getting any significant climate financing now look very slim, never mind the promises.

In the face of such adverse climate changes however, many people in developing countries remain ill-informed on what to expect as a result of the changes. And because there has not been educational campaigns, many people, especially the elderly, remain oblivious to what climate change is, even when it is already affecting them in a major way.

And in the meantime, the climate change “thinkers” keep on playing cat and mouse games with the rest of the world!

Unfortunately, many developing nations have already started to feel the impact of climate change and global warming, with very little, if any, adaptation measures in place.

In Zimbabwe for instance, the hottest summer is currently being experienced and the rainfall patterns have become more erratic than ever, which has had an adverse effect on especially the small-scale farmers that are still concentrating on water-reliant crop types.
As a result, many people face serious starvation. The extremely hot weather conditions have also presented a perfect environment for mosquitoes, prompting malaria fears.

This however, according to climate change experts, is just the beginning.

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