Kenya presses for a new climate treaty

Updated: 2011-12-04 09:13


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NAIROBI - The establishment of a legally binding treaty to curb carbon emissions is a key priority among developing countries attending the ongoing climate talks in Durban, South Africa.

The African group of negotiators in Durban has maintained a common position that developed countries commit to greater emission reductions.

"Kenya has joined community of nations to negotiate holistic approaches that address climate change. We have linked up with global processes that seek solution to global warming," Kenya's Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Environment and Mineral Resources, Ali Mohammed told Xinhua in a recent interview.

"Kenya is urging the international community to accelerate the process towards a new climate treaty to replace Kyoto Protocol," Mohammed said.

He revealed that the East African Country has developed a position paper to be presented in the ongoing Durban climate talks.

Mohammed clarified that like other developing nations, Kenya is keen on the establishment of a "legally binding framework to limit green house gases."

He said Kenya's negotiators at Durban will however use diplomacy to mobilize developing nations to lobby for a post Kyoto framework that caters for their interests.

"We are vulnerable to climate change impacts as evidenced by frequency of droughts, floods and tropical diseases. Kenya calls for a new treaty to reduce emissions within a legally binding framework," Mohammed said.

He stressed that a new climate treaty must be based on compelling scientific evidence on rising temperatures and their impact to vulnerable nations.

"Kenya will negotiate with big powers and convince them that the country's vulnerability is high despite not being a least developed country," Mohammed said.

The East African largest economy will negotiate for new financing to establish climate adaptation and mitigation programs.

"Reduced Emissions on Deforestation and Degradation (REDD) mechanism has the greatest potential in Kenya. Kenya insists that REDD should be part of funding mechanism," he said.

"It will be difficult to get a post Kyoto agreement in Durban. Many of the critical players are not ready to accept an agreement with Kyoto architecture," Alexander Alusa, Climate Change Policy Advisor, at the Office of Kenya's Prime Minister told Xinhua.

"This means that they want a completely renegotiated agreement and they want the fast growing economies on board. These are key challenges. I am afraid that they are major challenges and I do not think there will be an agreement in Durban on these issues."

Alusa stressed that the interests of developing countries are critical to success or failure of the Durban talks.

"These interests are adaptation, technology development and transfer, capacity building most significantly finance to undertake all of the above," Alusa said.

"Additionally, as the most vulnerable countries, developing countries require that developed ones take on ambitious emission reduction targets to ensure that global warming does not exceed the 2 degree threshold as required by science."

Alusa warned that failure to agree on a new climate treaty to replace Kyoto protocol bodes ill for developing countries.

He clarified that "some progress is being made in the three areas of concern to developing countries that include adaptation, technology transfer and capacity development, except perhaps finance."

He said Kenyan negotiators had done enough groundwork to boost their bargaining clout at Durbant talks.

"Yes I believe Kenya prepared very well for the negotiations. Numerous workshops were held to ensure that our negotiators were up to speed on the issues and that a national position was in place prior to Durban conference," Alusa said.

Durban climate talks are a watershed moment for developing countries as they press for a bigger say in negotiations leading to a new treaty.

Richard Munang, Policy Advisor for the joint UNEP/UNDP Climate Change Adaptation and Development Program said that a new climate treaty is in the interest of developing economies.

"The Durban talks represents a critical moment in the international climate change negotiations and a defining opportunity for African leaders to chart the course towards outcomes that curb the rising threat of climate change to the African continent," Munang told Xinhua.

He added that a renegotiated Kyoto protocol will advance the interests and aspirations of developing countries bearing a huge toll of climate change impacts.

According to Munang, Durban talks will cover a wide range of key issues such as adaptation, forests and deforestation, technology transfer as well as a process to operationalize a new green climate fund.

"These will be the most difficult phase of the negotiations. Also at play is the way forward under the Kyoto Protocol, the question of how to raise and secure the funds needed for long-term climate financing, and the legal form of an agreed outcome. These unresolved issues will shape discussions in Durban."

Developing countries are pushing for a second commitment period for Annex 1 countries under Kyoto protocol to cover adequate global temperature goal and an adequate level of global emission reductions.

Munang reiterated that developing countries in Africa and Asia are keen on outcomes that emphasize stronger mitigation and finance commitments from developed countries.

"These countries are looking forward to outcomes that root for long-term financing under the Kyoto Protocol and operationalization of the green climate fund as well as technology transfer mechanism," Munang said.