The Minister of Environment and Natural Resources, Stanislas Kamanzi, yesterday addressed the Senate on the country’s preparations for the upcoming meeting on climate change scheduled for next week in Copenhagen, Denmark.
The UN sponsored meeting is expected to kick-start new climate change negotiations that will determine conditions of the future of carbon emissions.
“Africa chose to go to Copenhagen with one voice and Ethiopia will lead the ten countries that will represent the continent; however, each country will present its position on climate change,” Kamanzi told members of the Upper Chamber.
He told Senate that in preparation for the negotiations in Copenhagen, Rwanda was among the first countries in Africa that has developed a negotiating position to enable smaller and poorer countries to gain access to financing for climate change mitigation as well as adaptation measures.
“In Copenhagen, Africa will be negotiating with the West in reduction of carbon emissions; however, the agreement reached will not replace the Kyoto Protocol as some Western countries have wanted, we have to retain the Protocol,” Kamanzi said.
He also updated Senators on the recent move by some African countries to seek compensation from the West for releasing too much carbon into space.
“Rwanda opposed this move since there in no benefit; we would get the money, but these countries would make it an excuse to continue releasing carbon emission; so, we opted to emphasize our right to assistance in adaptation and mitigation of climate change related effects,” the minister said.
Meanwhile, with a growing economy, emissions are likely to increase even though Rwanda is politically committed to a sustainable development with a strong focus on renewable energies.
The government has already invested substantially in re-forestation, efficient biomass use, energy sources including hydropower, methane gas and solar photo voltaics, ensuring the country is already well advanced in terms of keeping emissions as low as possible.
However, initial investments for clean technologies are very capital-intensive which can be problematic.
The Kyoto Protocol provides for the Clean Development Mechanism whereby developing economies can sell carbon credits.
According to Kamanzi, Rwanda is preparing a number of carbon trade initiatives for efficient lighting; hydro-power projects; Lake Kivu methane gas to power; solar and biomass related energy projects as well as carbon capture benefits through forestry programs.