As the momentum builds towards the United Nations, Copenhagen Climate Change Conference, scheduled for next December, the tempo has been raised in the ongoing discussions as to how we can best mitigate the negative impact of global warming.
Key in the discussions is consensus building at a global level, on a fair, just and balanced deal on climate change.
Scientists have warned that the earth has limited capacity to absorb more greenhouse emissions, meaning that the remaining atmospheric space has to be bargained for and shared by all.
Intricate in the current debate is that rich countries, who are perhaps the biggest emitters, will stand and negotiate at the same level with poor African countries who suffer more from the effects of the pollution than anyone else in the world.
The debate will thus be both scientific and political, demanding a level of bargaining creativity on the part of African countries.
Some within Africa for instance, see the potential to argue for an ‘ecological debt’, the simple logic being that, Africa contributes the least to the pollutants, that have caused devastating ecological damage.
They argue for compensation for the impoverished livelihoods as a result of the negative impact of climate change.
The impact of which can be felt in; the extended periods of drought, massive crop failure, and extreme weather conditions like floods, cyclones, extended dry spells, heat waves and severe bushfires.
All which spell bad news for the African continent, which is struggling to extricate itself out of the cycle of poverty.
While the discussions within Africa have centred on how best to mitigate the negative impact of global warming, the main challenge remains of having a united continental position.
How are African countries going to stand their ground and negotiate a fair deal in Copenhagen, against their trading and development partners in the West?
Negotiating a proper global climate change deal, simply means Africans have to prioritise negotiating themselves out of poverty. Their collective motto must therefore be, ‘fair deal’ or ‘no deal’.