from All Africa
New Era (Windhoek)
Climate change is not a future scenario as its impact is already being felt, especially by the poorest of the poor in Namibia.
"Namibia has come here to do business. It's time for all of us to rise to the occasion and take early action in the face of the urgency of the challenge,"
Environment and Tourism Minister, Willem Konjore, said in his address at the United Nations climate change conference here on Wednesday.
He said immediate deep cuts in greenhouse gases are necessary and early action definitely outweighs the cost of delay.
"As a first step, parties should meet their obligations under the Kyoto Protocol. Furthermore, evidence before us calls for the setting of ambitious mitigation targets.
"We expect developed countries to take the lead in this regard, while developing countries should be given incentives and assistance to limit their emissions in accordance with the principles of common but differentiated responsibilities," he noted.
Konjore said developing countries should be supported financially and technologically to develop their economies following a low carbon path.
"Namibia has plenty of sunshine for 365 days a year, we are ready to do our bit. We, therefore, invite those with clean and renewable energy technologies, especially in solar systems, to engage in mutually beneficial partnerships through technology transfer," he advised.
More than 11000 people gathered for the 13th Conference of the 192 parties to the UNFCCC and the third meeting of the 176 parties to the Kyoto Protocol - making it the largest UN climate meeting ever held.
The world expects an agreement to launch negotiations towards a comprehensive climate change agreement from Bali.
All eyes are set on a roadmap to a more secure climate future, coupled with a tight time-line that produces a deal by 2009.
The date is crucial, not only to ensure continuity after 2012 when the first commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol expires, but equally to address the desperate urgency of the situation itself.
Konjore, Namibia's Representative at the United Nations, Dr Kaire Mbuende, Director of Environmental Affairs at the Ministry of Environment and Tourism, Theo Nghitila, and several senior Government officials are representing Namibia.
Meanwhile, UN Under-Secretary General and Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), Abdoulie Janneh, yesterday said ECA would collaborate with Nobel Prize winner, Dr Rajendra Pachauri, and his organisation, the Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) of New Delhi, India, to establish an African centre for climate policy studies.
Janneh told delegates at the conference that the centre would provide African countries with analytical work and capacity for mainstreaming climate-related concerns in the frameworks of their development policies, strategies and plans.
"The collaboration with TERI would help develop the capacity of African countries that are more impacted by climate change, but who are unable to cope with the impact because of the high level of poverty, reliance on rain-fed agriculture and other climate-sensitive sectors such as fisheries, forests and tourism," he explained.
Climate change is predicted to put millions of Africans at risk of water stress and hunger, and to further threaten the livelihoods of those who reside in already degraded areas.
Developed countries can help in all this by honouring their past commitments under the Kyoto Protocol, by reducing greenhouse gas emissions, by providing financial resources and facilitating technology transfer to developing countries.
Apart from the new centre, whose headquarters have not been decided upon yet, ECA will also assist in developing the capacity of African countries through the Climate Information for Development (Clim-Dev Africa) programme, which it is implementing in collaboration with the African Union and the African Development Bank.
Janneh said Clim-Dev would scale up the capacities of key institutions and stakeholders to improve climate-related data and observation, information services, policies and risk management practices in all climate-sensitive sectors.
Science tells us that emissions must peak in the next 10 to 15 years, and then be reduced by half of 2000 levels by 2050.
Towards this end, the Bali Roadmap must signal the resolve of developed countries to reduce emissions by at least 25 to 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2020.
The conference, which ends today, is expected to produce a road map for post-2012, when the present Kyoto Protocol expires.
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