AFP – Two months before a crucial UN climate summit African leaders on Friday said the continent needs 65 billion dollars (44 billion euros) to deal with the effects of global warming.
“We think 65 billion dollars are needed to deal with the effects of climate change on a continental scale. That is to say that our expectations are very high,” Salifou Sawadogo, Burkina Faso’s environment minister said at the opening of a special forum on climate change.
The seventh World Forum on Sustainable Development comes just two months before the UN climate summit in Copenhagen set to seal a planet-saving global deal.
Experts say Sub-Saharan Africa is one of the regions most affected by global warming. The World Bank estimates that the developing world will suffer about 80 percent of the damage of climate change despite accounting for only around one third of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.
“We are all on the same planet so there is a duty of solidarity to help the most vulnerable countries, like we are, implement policies to adapt to climate change,” Sawadogo said.
His comments come as crunch UN climate talks held in Bangkok drew to a close Friday with the rift between the rich and the poor countries still wide open.
A key point of contention remains how much money wealthy nations are willing to cough up to help developing ones deal with climate change.
“The Ethiopian prime minister (Meles Zenawi, one of the African representatives for the UN summit) was adamant. If nothing is done, Africa will leave the table” at the Copenhagen talks, the minister said.
The African continent is the world’s poorest and least industrialised. Africans account for only 4 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions while the central Congo basin is considered one of the worlds ‘green lungs’ together with the Amazon rain forest.
Already climate change is reeking havoc in Africa with West Africa suffering from floods while east Africa is facing an historic drought. Experts say global warming is set to further affect the continent: agriculture here is almost exclusively dependent on rain for irrigation and the continuing spread of the Sahara desert is already changing migration patterns.
In Copenhagen “we need a have a reciprocal exchange”, Youssouf Ouedraogo, the former prime minister of Burkina Faso and currently a special advisor to the African Development Bank (BAD) told AFP.
“Africa should not be made to feel that while it is the least polluting continent its views and demands are not heard. That would be dangerous,” he said.
Still Western representatives at the Burkina Faso forum warned that Africa’s demands for compensation could be hard to meet.
Because of the economic crisis “the resources of developed nations have contracted,” Pierre-Andre Wilzer, a member of the French development agency AFD told AFP.
“You cannot think that all of a sudden we will be able to increase global development aid by 50 percent.”
The three-day forum in Ouagadougou organised by the government of Burkina Faso together with the United Nations and the African Union continues in the weekend