NAIROBI, November 7 – African countries are yet to fully benefit from carbon credits despite being the least emitters of carbon dioxide.
Trade Minister Uhuru Kenyatta says despite the global market for carbon emission expanding in 2007, where it was valued at $30 billon, the region is yet to benefit from this market.
Mr Kenyatta blamed the problem on ignorance, lack of awareness and the absence of a common stand by African countries on the issue.
“We don’t want to be in a situation where we are discussing climate change individually. We want to do it as region that strengthens our voice. We want when the (COMESA) summit is held next year our heads of states from the region to speak with one voice to put Africa’s case forward,” Mr Kenyatta said.
Speaking at a Joint Meeting of COMESA ministers for agriculture and environment Mr Kenyatta said there was great opportunity for Africa as a whole to invest in carbon projects.
He said this is because the region has a comparative advantage for carbon emission reduction credits through afforestation, reforestation, sustainable land use, agro forestry, and related livelihood activities.
“We are the ones with the greatest potential of being able to give forest cover and to change lands from different utilisation to carbon fixing utilities. We don’t necessarily think its fair that companies from Europe or the Americas can come offer us Sh380 ($5) then go trade the same in Western Europe for Sh2660 ($35),”the Trade minister emphasised.
Mr Kenyatta said that the potential contribution of converting degraded croplands and grasslands into agro forestry systems in Africa is estimated to be 390 million metric tons of carbon per year by the year 2010.
At the same meeting COMESA Secretary General Sindiso Ngwenya revealed that they were working with SADC and the EAC to developed a comprehensive strategy on climate change whose overarching goal is to contribute to the establishment of sustainable landscapes and livelihoods, including adaptation and mitigation to climate change.
Mr Ngwenya observed that Africa emits less greenhouse gases than any other continent, but is still likely to suffer most from the effects of a changing climate caused by the emissions of industrialised countries.
He said formal and practical recognition of African bio-carbon could mobilize up to $50 billion per year in new development resources to enable and empower low carbon prosperity in Africa.
“Successes on African bio-carbon would bring incentives and resources to reverse and prevent environmental degradation in Africa, to power sustainable rural development and to help free Africans from the burden of poverty,” Mr Ngwenya said.
He noted that according to recent studies, bio-carbon offers one-third of the mitigation potential available over the coming decades at reasonable cost.
“It is now clear that mankind cannot achieve climate stabilization by mid-century without dealing with the full spectrum of land use in the developing world,” he said.