First and Worst | Tonnes of CO2 Per Capita

First and Worst

<!––> Jun 1st, 2009 11:54 PM EST
By Andreas.Huebers


Africa has contributed least to the current climate change. In fact, UN statisticians have found that only 3.6% of global C02-emissions come from the African continent (see figure above).

In stark contrast, the continent is affected “first and worst”. Some examples include severe floods in Zambia and Mozambique, a shift in rain patterns in Uganda and in South Africa, and huge areas experiencing longer and more intensive periods of drought across the continent.

These are arguably only the first signs, with worse to come. According to the International Panel on climate change (IPCC), by 2020, some regions could see crop yields from rain-fed agriculture fall by nearly 50% and 75 – 250 million people additionally could be affected by lack of water.

It is not enough to just minimize the number of individuals further impoverished by these changes. The international community needs to find ways and means to help African societies preserve the gains made in the past several years. The affected communities will need significant resources to adapt to these challenges. There are many proposals on the table: a carbon tax on air travel or maritime transport, a global auctioning system of emission rights and many others. I believe that these funds will have to satisfy certain criteria. The need to be:

  • Sufficient – funds generated are equal to the scale of the task. Existing estimates of annual needs vary considerably but could be as high as $86 billion annually (see table below.)
  • Predictable – funds are generated in as stable and predictable a way as possible
  • Equitable – funds will have to be generated in those countries that are responsible for the lion share of greenhouse gas emissions: the industrialized countries.
  • Additional – funds are ‘new and additional’ to existing aid requirements
  • Verifiable – funds are collected and disbursed in a transparent and verifiable manner
  • Easy to implement – mechanisms that can be readily implemented should be favoured

Many new funds have been set up, but the volumes they have disbursed so far are rather ridiculous compared both to the task at hand as well as the number of funds (see the excellent overview).

Raising new funds is one side of the coin, spending them efficiently yet another. Already African countries are complaining about an increasing numbers of donors at the country level which they have to coordinate and report to. In the Paris declaration and the Accra Agenda for Action donors have agreed to harmonize their procedures, increase transparency and work through the financial and procurement systems of the partner countries. A plethora of new funds would threaten the achievements of the international efforts to increase aid effectiveness. It is therefore essential to find a solid framework or governance structure for these efforts. The funds must be governed under a representative structure that takes the interests and perspectives of developing countries sufficiently into account.

It might seem close to impossible to sort out all the open questions raised above on a global level within 7 months, when a global climate treaty will be signed in Copenhagen, Denmark.

However, the public expectation and pressure is just about as gigantic. In the end, whether or not a historic deal will be signed in Copenhagen will depend both on the leadership of the negotiators as well as the pressure of a globalized civil society.

-Andreas Huebers


~ by Cory Morningstar on June 2, 2009.

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