Africa “lags on climate vision”

African nations still are trying to shape a shared climate vision to help them negotiate together as a new global climate-change treaty is forged, Nature reported. Their “Nairobi Declaration”, released after the third African Ministerial Conference on the Environment in Kenya last week, contained few specifics beyond asking rich countries for emissions cuts and technical support.


“It was difficult to agree on how much to ask for,” Sputnik Ratau, a spokesman for Buyelwa Sonjica, South Africa’s minister of water and the environment, told Nature. “Different countries have different needs.” Presenting nuanced negotiating texts can be difficult.


“Africa has benefited the least from the current climate-change regime,” according to Yvo de Boer, head of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Although billions of US dollars have been put into climate projects to benefit developing countries, he said, they have “not taken off in Africa in any significant way”.


The continent faces difficulty in forging a united position on most fronts – including climate change — because of Africa’s political and ethnic heterogeneity. But the most apparent divide is between South Africa and the rest of the continent, which is seen as wary of South Africa’s dominance in negotiations. Although about 90% of South Africa’s energy comes from coal, the country has initiated a plan to decrease its greenhouse-gas emissions by 2030 to 2035. Mandatory energy-efficiency targets, carbon taxes and clean-coal technologies are all part of the effort.


The African group has been seen as slow to work together – which does not bode well for its ability to influence the Group of 77 developing states, dominated by China, India and Brazil, according to Nature.


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