, NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 3 – President Mwai Kibaki has challenged African countries to strategically position themselves to fully benefit from the lucrative carbon trade that presently stands at billions of dollars annually.
Addressing the Second Africa Carbon Forum at the United Nations Office Nairobi in Gigiri, President Kibaki urged African scholars to use scientific evidence to demonstrate the real value of forests in carbon reduction in order to negotiate binding Clean Development Mechanisms (CDM).
The President noted that according to the Stockholm Environment Institute, the global carbon market was currently worth $126 billion and projected to be worth $2 to $3 trillion by the year 2020.
He declared: “For Africa to benefit from this massive global market, the private sector, civil society and communities must play a major role. We must not lose sight of our internal responsibilities and abilities which could also enable us to internalize an African CDM market.”
The Head of State also urged the forum to come up with recommendations that will ensure the continent becomes competitive in the carbon market and trade, and also guarantee that part of the benefits accrued are channeled to local communities as well as environmental conservation programmes.
Locally, the Head of State said that the Government had developed a national climate change response strategy detailing measures to address the adverse effects of climate change on a longer-term basis.
During the forum, President Kibaki also articulated the need for African countries to develop national strategies to combat climate change as they seek the support of developed countries.
“We ought to bear in mind that addressing the impacts of climate change is about our countries and the survival of our people,” President Kibaki emphasised.
The President at the same time challenged the continent to advocate for all nations to demonstrate the required political will to undertake greenhouse gas emission reduction targets as recommended by the 4th Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
President Kibaki noted that Africa bore the brunt of climate change in spite of accounting for a very small proportion of greenhouse gas emissions.
Said President Kibaki: “Our continent has benefited the least from the Clean Development Mechanisms. There is urgent need for us to critically examine the fundamental impediments to the flow of these Mechanisms into Africa.”
The President emphasised that the continent must actively be involved in negotiations and development of new international mechanisms in order to ensure African countries are adequately catered for in terms of benefiting from the CDM.
Noting that forestry and land-use are two areas where Africa has comparative advantage and potential to benefit from new funding avenues, President Kibaki regretted that these two areas have not been anchored within the Clean Development Mechanisms.
“Indeed, although forests reduce substantial carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, trading in forest carbon is only through voluntary markets. This is a disadvantage for us because the carbon credits from voluntary markets are lower than obligatory markets and are not guaranteed,” the President said.
The President pointed out that the success of the Clean Development Mechanisms market will also depend on a global commitment and will to comprehensively address all aspects of CDM mechanisms, particularly emission reductions and financial support to developing countries.
“Indeed, the solution to climate change lies in a two-pronged approach, in which major emitting nations undertake ambitious emission reductions and at the same time provide financial support for carbon reduction activities,” the President said.
President Kibaki, therefore, challenged participants at the forum to bear in mind that they have a duty to conserve the environment in the interest of present and future generations.
He said Africa should endeavour to play its roles effectively and strive to convince the rest of the world to follow suit.
“We must work hard as we look forward to COP 16 in Mexico later this year, where it is envisaged that there will be global consensus on how to tackle climate change,” President Kibaki said.
Noting that the Copenhagen Conference that was held last year failed to reach a comprehensive and legally binding commitment to tackle climate change, President Kibaki said the failure of COP 15 was a sobering reminder that there is yet to be adequate political will to address the problem of climate change.
Other speakers included Forestry and Wildlife Minister Noah Wekesa and United Nations Office Nairobi Director-General, who is also the United Nations Environment Programme Executive Director, Achim Steiner among others.