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African Leaders Renew Call for Binding Climate Deal

On the final day of UN climate talks in Copenhagen, African leaders have renewed calls for a legally binding deal to fight climate change.

Sweden's PM Fredrik Reinfeldt (L), European Commission chief Jose Manuel Barroso (2ndR), Ethiopia's PM Meles Zenawi and AU Commission Chairperson Jean Ping (R) give a news conference in Copenhagen, 16 Dec 2009
Sweden's PM Fredrik Reinfeldt (L), European Commission chief Jose Manuel Barroso (2ndR), Ethiopia's PM Meles Zenawi and AU Commission Chairperson Jean Ping (R) give a news conference in Copenhagen, 16 Dec 2009

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Speaking on behalf of the G77 group of developing countries, Sudanese presidential assistant Nafi Ali Nafi pressed for world leaders to sign a legally binding deal to fight climate change.

"The developing countries have the most to lose if there are no concrete result of our discussions. We are therefore the most concerned that we arrive at a successful outcome," he said.

A legal deal would see binding cuts in greenhouse gas emissions for developed countries and a concrete financial plan on how to help poor countries deal with climate change.

But in the final day of the Copenhagen summit, most observers say a legally binding deal is an unlikely outcome of these talks.

Instead, they say, a more likely outcome would be a political agreement that would include targets for reductions in carbon emissions by 2020.

Friday a draft for such a text was leaked to the media. In it, one of the major issues was addressed - how to help poor countries deal financially with climate change.

According to the draft, rich countries will provide $100 billion a year by 2020 to help developing nations cut their emissions and adapt to climate change.

Speaking Friday, Ethiopia's Prime Minister Meles Zinawi confirmed a message he made earlier in the week - that this sum is a fair one.

"We have the proposal that I made on behalf of Africa, a proposal that I believe is fair and just and do-able, a proposal that I'm convinced has the support not only of Africa and the developing countries as a whole, but also of many developed countries," he said.

But some African delegates and activists warn that a $100 billion annual fund won't be enough to help poor countries cope with the chaos climate change is already bringing to parts of Africa.

Robert Bailey, a spokesman for the aid group Oxfam International, says $200 billion a year is the minimum needed to ensure poor countries can deal with rapid environmental change.

And he adds that no commitments have so far been made about where the $100 billion being discussed will be found.

"There is not a clear commitment that this money is going to be public money that is going to predictable money that is paid from one government into a fund that can then be dispersed in an equitable and balanced way," he said.

The two key stumbling blocks at Copenhagen are climate finance and the extent to which countries will cut their green house gas emissions.

In 2007 a panel of U.N. climate scientists suggested emissions would have to fall by a minimum of 25 percent below 1990 levels by 2020 to avert the worst affects of climate change including extreme drought and flooding.

The offers of industrialized countries are right now falling well below that target, with the United States committing to around a 4 percent cut.

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