Sunday, May 28, 2023

Botswana grudgingly supports the Copenhagen Accord

Environment Wildlife and Tourism Minister, Kitso Mokaila, on Monday hosted a press briefing at which he expressed Botswana’s half-hearted support for the recently founded Copenhagen Accord, which came into existence after last year’s heated Copenhagen Climate Change Conference.

Mokaila represented Botswana at the conference from December 7th to 18th in Copenhagen, Denmark.

The prominent agenda in Copenhagen related to the review of the Kyoto Protocol. While developing countries called for higher emission reduction targets for developed countries, the industrialized countries were rooting for the inclusion of major developing countries, like China and India, in the global program to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. The technical segment of the negotiations failed to have the different countries agree on emission reduction.

As it became increasingly clear that the conference would not reach a unanimous agreement, the leadership selected five major nations, together with a number of developing economies, to put together what would come to be known as the Copenhagen Accord.

Even though the accord failed to deliver on the major expectations of the developing countries, Botswana included, it was grudgingly accepted as a step in the right direction. But it was largely slammed by disgruntled participants as a non committal sham and an anticlimax.

“Botswana, like other developing countries, including some small islands, welcomes the accord, although it was not entirely what the developing countries were after,” said Mokaila.

Botswana, he said, had hoped for a legally binding agreement, and a commitment on the side of the developed countries to pledge financial inflows in the region of US $ 400 billion per annum, towards the funding of climate change adaptation.

“We had hoped that developed countries would announce major carbon dioxide emission cuts, which did not happen.

The developed countries proposed emission reduction of 17% to 20 %, which are actually half of the 40% recommended by the IPCC, the advisory body of the convention,” he added.
Mokaila’s utterances mirror the mood that was prevalent at the end of the conference, especially among delegates from the developing countries. They reportedly left in a sour mood, primarily because they view the accord as a rather lackluster compromise instead of a binding pledge by developing countries to tackle global warming. The accord, they said, lacks crucial elements like firm targets for reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.

There were incessant calls for firm commitments on the part of developed countries to facilitate a flow of financing to enable poor countries to adapt to climate change, and effective systems through which major economies can monitor and report their greenhouse gas emissions.

While the accord is a promise of action by major economies to curb green house gas emissions and assist developing countries to tackle global warming through establishment of clean energy economies and cushioning against the debilitating effects of global warming, the insurmountable gap between the nations’ combined pledges and what the situation on the ground requires to avert the risks of global warming leaves a lot to be desired.

Almost all the speakers from the developing world reportedly denounced the accord as a sham that was privately coined by rich countries without the input of developing countries. The Sudanese delegate reportedly likened the effect of the accord on poor nations to the Holocaust.

But in the end, many of the smallest and most vulnerable nations grudgingly accepted the deal, except for some, like, among others Venezuela, Cuba, Sudan and Saudi Arabia.


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