Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi Calls For Compromise

John Vidal writes for the Guardian.

The head of the African group of nations at the UN climate change conference in Copenhagen has proposed a finance deal where rich countries would pay for schemes to help poor states adapt to climate change and develop their economies using clean technology.

The proposal, from the Ethiopian prime minister, Meles Zenawi, of $50bn (£44bn) a year for poor countries by 2015 and $100bn (£89bn) by 2020, is far less than many developing nations had been calling for, but is roughly in line with a proposal in June by the UK prime minister, Gordon Brown, and an offer agreed by the EU in October.

Control over the funds would lie with the countries receiving the money. The G77 group of 130 countries, backed by the least developed countries and small island states, has long proposed that $400bn (£356bn) a year, or 1% of rich countries’ GDP, would be the appropriate figure.

Meles also proposed that 50% of the fund created should be allocated to vulnerable and poor countries as well as “regions such as Africa and small island states”.

In addition, he suggested that a group of high level financial experts investigate and report back within six months on possible “innovative” ways to raise the money. IMF special drawing rights, as proposed by the G77 and financier George Soros, a carbon tax, a possible “Tobin tax” on all financial transactions and even taxes on flights and shipping would all be assessed. His proposal is likely to have been largely agreed by rich countries following intense talks in the last 24 hours between Meles, Gordon Brown and other world leaders.

Meles admitted that many Africans would not be happy: “I know my proposal will disappoint those Africans who … have asked for full compensation … for damage done to our development prospects. My proposal dramatically scales back our expectation of the level of funding in return for more reliable funding and a seat at the table in the management of such fund.”

“Because we stand to lose more than others we have to be flexible,” he said, adding that there was a danger that no deal would be done. “That is not an idle threat but a solemn promise by Africa that we will strive for a fair and just deal,” he said.

read more at the Guardian

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