Tiempo Climate Cyberlibrary

Focus on Accra


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The Tiempo Climate Cyberlibrary was developed by Mick Kelly and Sarah Granich on behalf of the Stockholm Environment Institute and the International Institute for Environment and Development, with sponsorship from the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency.

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The latest round of climate negotiations took place in Ghana in August 2008. Newswatch editors Sarah Granich and Mick Kelly report.

Opening the Accra Climate Change Talks, John Agyekum Kufuor, president of Ghana, called for an "international deal... in which developing countries commit to plan for climate resilient development. In return the international community should commit to provide adequate, predictable, long-term funding and support in terms of technology transfer and capacity building." The Accra meeting is the latest stage in the development of strengthened long-term action on climate change. Agreement needs to be reached by the time of the Copenhagen meeting in December 2009. "The clock is ticking," Kufuor warned. "We need to be pragmatic and move beyond rhetoric to make progress as we move towards Copenhagen."

In his opening address, Yvo de Boer, executive secretary of the Framework Convention on Climate Change Secretariat, noted that Africa is "the climate change regimes's forgotten continent," with a limited number of Clean Development Mechanism projects and relatively low funding from the Global Environment Facility. "If this meeting can be a step towards the design of a regime that helps Africa to achieve clean economic growth and deal with the impacts of climate change through effective mechanisms that deliver on finance, technology and capacity-building, you will have done very important work here," he continued.

Agreement does seem likely on the inclusion of deforestation-related measures in any post-Kyoto framework, backed by a new financial mechanism. The possibility of sector-specific emissions reduction targets, aimed at high-polluting industries, was a major focus of discussion in Accra. It has been agreed that developing countries will not have to accept binding sectoral targets, though voluntary sectoral initiatives may be included in an upgraded Clean Development Mechanism. The developing nations continued to resist pressure to expand the number of countries covered by binding emissions reduction targets.

The European Union was heavily criticized for not committing additional funds to assist the developing country response to climate change as the Accra Climate Change Talks came to a close. "A serious and equitable response... will require rich countries to pay billions in public funds to help poor countries develop in a sustainable, low carbon manner. So why has the European Union, which likes to claim global leadership in the response to climate change, turned up with empty pockets again?" asked Nelson Muffuh, adviser to Christian Aid, speaking on behalf of a number of African non-governmental organizations. The World Bank announced recently that developing countries would require 170 billion US dollars between now and the year 2030 to mitigate and adapt to climate change.

Long-standing obstacles remained firmly in place at the Accra talks. The United States, for example, continues to refuse to accept binding emissions targets and this position is unlikely to change before the presidential elections later this year. Japan, Canada, Russia and Australia were also accused of stalling tactics. Nevertheless, de Boer is confident that progress is being made. "Governments are very committed to this process. I feel sure that the train will reach Copenhagen as planned," he said.

The next negotiations will take place in Poznañ, Poland, in December 2008.

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Updated: May 15th 2015