Kagame leads Africa’s call on climate change

NEW-YORK - President Paul Kagame yesterday drummed up international support on behalf of Africa for a concrete pact on climate change, arguing that Africa will be hard hit if no action is taken.  He called for a shared mitigation and adaptation strategy that would leave no one behind. The only African leader to address the special United Nations session debating Climate Change, ahead of the December Copenhagen Summit, President Kagame told his fellow Heads of State that Africa stands out to suffer severe impacts of climate change and yet its resources remain inadequate to manage the challenge. “Africa will probably have the greater and more severe impacts from climate change than other parts of the world,” Kagame told the UN General Assembly.   
President Paul Kagame addressing the UN General Assembly yesterday. (Photo Urugwiro Village)
President Paul Kagame addressing the UN General Assembly yesterday. (Photo Urugwiro Village)

NEW-YORK - President Paul Kagame yesterday drummed up international support on behalf of Africa for a concrete pact on climate change, arguing that Africa will be hard hit if no action is taken.  He called for a shared mitigation and adaptation strategy that would leave no one behind.

The only African leader to address the special United Nations session debating Climate Change, ahead of the December Copenhagen Summit, President Kagame told his fellow Heads of State that Africa stands out to suffer severe impacts of climate change and yet its resources remain inadequate to manage the challenge.

“Africa will probably have the greater and more severe impacts from climate change than other parts of the world,” Kagame told the UN General Assembly.  

“And yet this is very marginally, if at all, a problem of Africa’s making,” Kagame said.

Almost 100 world leaders descended on New York as the UN held its special summit on climate change designed to generate a strong political will and consensus ahead of the Copenhagen Summit.

Kagame said climate change was no longer a case for the rich industrialised nations, but rather an issue that has to be tackled by the entire global fraternity.

He said the legacy to solve this problem mainly through carbon trading with the developed world is insufficient and has “not fully integrated the developing world.”

“---the current cap and trade process is a disincentive to developing countries to adopt a low carbon dioxide emission pathway,” Kagame said.

Kagame recommended to the assembly a new strategy for ensuring a harmonised and equitable carbon trading regime, which would benefit all nations and not necessarily the developed ones as the current one does.

To ensure a functioning financing frame-work on carbon trading, the President recommended that there be a ceiling for carbon emission per person /per year for all nations.

Those with higher emissions, say over two tonnes per person, could offset the emissions by trading off with less emitting nations.

With this, Kagame said developing countries below the threshold would have a financial incentive to maintain the status by trading with developed countries that exceed their quota.

“The global trade in this ‘commodity’ would eventually yield a carbon dioxide global value in the region of one trillion dollars,” Kagame suggested.

“This strategy guarantees the cap and trade process—and would lead to the lowering of emissions since all countries will be incentivized to reduce them,” he said.

US President, Barack Obama, who spoke ahead of President Kagame said the world must address climate change now or suffer an “irreversible catastrophe” and insisted the United States was “determined” to act on global warming.

“Though many of our nations have taken bold actions and share in this determination, we did not come here today to celebrate progress. We came because there is so much more progress to be made.”

‘We came because there is so much more work to be done.”

Ban Ki-moon, the UN Secretary-General, called on the world leaders : “to accelerate the pace of negotiations and to strengthen the ambition of what is on offer” for a deal at Copenhagen, Denmark.

“Failure to reach a broad agreement in Copenhagen would be morally inexcusable, economically short-sighted and politically unwise,” he said.

The other world leaders that addressed the session included; Mohamed Nasheed (Maldives), Hu Jintao (China); Yukio Hatoyama (Japan), Fredrik Reinfeldt (Sweden), Óscar Arias Sánchez (Costa Rica) and French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

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