Climate Change: Remarks by PM Meles Zenawi in Durban 2011

Remarks made by H.E. Meles Zenawi
Prime Minister of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia on the COP 17
December 6, 2011
Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen

I would like to at the outset to thank our South African hosts for the warm and typical African hospitality that we have enjoyed since we set foot in this beautiful country. I would also wish to congradulate them for the splendid organization of the conference and excellent facilities made available to all participants to ensure the smooth progress of deliberations. I believe I speak
for Africa as a whole when I say to our brothers and sisters in South Africa you have done us proud.

Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen

The doomsayers are out with full force and pundits are falling over each other to declare this conference dead on arrival. I think you will agree with me that this prognosis of the premature death of our conference is highly exaggerated. But it would be wrong to underestimate the challenge we face. Indeed we need to be both ambitious and realistic about what we can achieve at this conference. I believe the key objective here should be to keep moving, to ensure that we make progress on all the issues that are less controversial and avoid backsliding on the difficult issues. So long as we keep moving in the right direction and as fast as our legs can carry us we will most certainly reach our final destination- and in good time.

We in Africa have concrete suggestions as to how we can do that. It is the view of the African Union that we should as a matter of top priority concentrate on the operationalization of the agreements we reached in Cancun. We believe we can in Durban agree on the governance mechanisms of the fund and operationalize the adaptation among many other important issues of the operationalization.

The issue of funding for climate change adaptation and mitigation is one of the utmost importance for us as Africans. We are already severely affected by the climate change as a result of which the lives of millions of Africans are at stake as the extra-ordinary drought in the Horn of Africa shows. We are therefore deeply disappointed that the transitional funding promised to us in Copenhagen has to a large extent railed to materialize. This puts the credibility of the whole process at risk in the eyes of the peoples of Africa.

We are pleased that the transitional committee has come up with good proposals on the governance of Green climate fund. We believe the excellent should not be allowed to be the enemy of the good. While we can understand that countries may wish to improve upon and modify the proposal we are worried that such improvements which are likely to be minor will not be worth making an undue delay in establishing the fund. We therefore call on all our partners to approve the proposals as is.

Establishing the fund and its governance mechanism would be a major step forward. But such progress will have little meaning unless we proceed to funding the fund. We do not need to reinvent the wheel to fund the fund once it is established. There is a detailed and very practical proposal prepared by the High level Advisory Group established by the Secretary General of the U.N. that we took note of in Cancun and can use as the basis for an agreement of actually funding adaptation and mitigation programmes, once the GCF Board is established.

The fate of the Kyoto Protocol has for a number of years been an issue of heated debate amongst us and rightly so. We in Africa recognize that the protocol needs to be updated so that it becomes more comprehensive in coverage and more effective in delivering results with regards to emission reduction consistent with of course with the principles of common but differentiated responsibility. We as Africans are also equally convinced that we cannot come lip with a better and more comprehensive deal by abandoning the only deal we have which so far has produced encouraging results. We strongly oppose attempts at backsliding by some annex countries. We cannot move forward by moving backward after every
progress we make.

In this regard we welcome the readiness of the EU to renew its commitments. We believe this is the environmentally responsible thing to do. We are aware that this is a commitment in principle and has been conditioned on concessions from emerging nations. We hope that some wording could be found to bridge the gap between the two sides and we are eager to contribute towards it. We at the same time wish to encourage the EU not to abandon the Kyoto Protocol irrespective of whether the gap can be bridged or not. Keeping Kyoto alive until we have some thing better is too important for the credibility of the whole process to be sacrificed for the tactical advantages at the negotiating table.

I wish to conclude by assuring everyone here that the African delegation is here to contribute positively to a successful outcome of the conference and
to engage everyone concerned to build consensus and understanding.

I thank you for your kind attention.



Daniel Berhane

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