Connie Kargbo is an associate producer at Worldfocus and a native of Sierra Leone. She blogs here about her opinion on Africa and climate change policy.
Throughout history Africa has repeatedly gotten the short end of the stick. Colonialism left the continent decades behind other developing regions. Diamonds mined deep in the heart of Africa breed bloody conflicts as they flee the continent to adorn the fingers of westerners.
There is a chance now to change the script.
World leaders gather next week at the UN General Assembly to discuss climate change and prepare for the larger climate change conference in Copenhagen in December. The Copenhagen conference is seeking to produce a successor to the Kyoto Protocol environment treaty. This time, Africa has come out with its boxing gloves ready to fight for the best climate change deal for the continent.
African leaders have read the scientific studies and seem well aware of the stark facts behind the effects of climate change. Despite how little their countries contribute to the overall global carbon emissions, according to a recent development report out by the World Bank developing nations will bear 75-80 percent of the cost of our changing climate. This seemingly unfair contradiction is why African leaders such as Ethiopia’s Meles Zenawi are defiantly threatening to walk out of the Copenhagen conference in December if Africa’s demand for monetary compensation from carbon-intensive rich countries is not appropriately addressed. In his own words, “”if needs be we are prepared to walk out of any negotiations that threaten to be another rape of our continent.” South Africa, one of the world’s top polluters, has entered the ring as well stressing that it will not sacrifice economic growth for the sake of reducing carbon emissions.
Although these various approaches to securing a better deal for Africa are controversial, one thing seems constant: Africa is unified as the Copenhagen meeting nears. It’s been a long time coming.