Bilal Randeree
Bilal Randeree

Africa united for the environment

Africans have come together to demand that wealthy countries take responsibility for messing up the planet. Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi said that Africa demands equal partner status at the global climate summit to be held in Copenhagen this December.

“Africa will not be there warming the chairs or making token statements,” Zenawi said. Africa has contributed the least to global warming but is potentially its worst victim. Burkina Faso’s environment minister, Salifou Sawadogo, said $65 billion dollars in reparations are needed to just deal with the effects of climate change. “We are all on the same planet so there is a duty of solidarity to help the most vulnerable countries, like we are, implement policies to adapt to climate change,” he added.

The reparations need to be paid by the G8 countries which comprise of the seven major industrialised nations and Russia. These countries make up about 14% of world population, but are responsible for more than 65% of the world’s economic output, and the vast majority of greenhouse gas emissions.

The developing world could suffer 80% of the damage due to climate change reported the World Bank. The African Union reports that the entire African continent only accounts for about 3.8% of global economic output, while the US on its own is responsible for more than 26%. Reason enough for President Obama to carry his shiny new Nobel medal to Copenhagen — these facts might remind him that the prize equals justice.

Oxfam reports that more than 23 million people across East Africa are facing critical shortages of food and water following successive years of failed rains and worsening drought. Experts also report that sub-Saharan Africa is one of the parts of the world most affected by global warming.

Though Africans remain committed and optimistic, Saudi Arabia has wacky ideas of its own. The Saudis are trying to convince other oil-producing countries to demand compensation from wealthy countries that intend to reduce their oil consumption. Yes, you heard right. The Saudis want other countries to PAY THEM if they decide to stop killing the planet.

“It is like the tobacco industry asking for compensation for lost revenues as a part of a settlement to address the health risks of smoking,” said one expert. Oil prices peaked last year, swelling the Saudi’s oil revenue by 37% to $281 billion. That is more than four times the amount of reparations that Africa needs.

“If needs be, we are prepared to walk out of any negotiations that threaten to be another rape of our continent,” said Zenawi.