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Africa to Seek Billions in Climate Change Compensation

The African Union is considering a proposal to demand at least $67 billion a year in environmental damages from developed countries at the Copenhagen Climate summit in December. Africa is seeking a common position to increase its bargaining power in Copenhagen.

Representatives of several African heads of state met at AU headquarters Monday to determine how much the continent should ask in compensation at the UN climate summit in December.

A concept paper obtained by VOA says the flow of money to support 'adaptation to changes in climate' must be at least $67 billion a year by the year 2020.

In all, the paper recommends that developed countries commit to paying one-half percent of Gross Domestic Product, or GDP for 'climate action' in poorer countries.

Diplomats attending a closed-door session say several countries argued that the demand should be much higher in view of the severe environmental damage facing the continent.

At the opening ceremony, AU Rural Economy and Agriculture Commissioner Rhoda Peace Tumusiime said Africa is one of the main victims of global warming.

"The global carbon trading mechanism that are expected to emerge from international negotiations on climate change should give Africa an opportunity to demand and get compensation for the damage to its economy caused by global warming, bearing in mind the fact that, despite contributing virtually nothing to global warming, Africa has been one of the primary victims of its consequences," she said.

The proposal being considered by African representatives says polluting countries must reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by at least 40 percent below 1990 levels within 10 years, and by up to 95 percent below 1990 levels by 2050.

The lead expert representing Ethiopia at the meetings, Desalegn Mesfin, spoke of catastrophic consequences, unless the world takes urgent action.

"Addressing the climate agenda very soon is a matter of ensuring the continuation of life on earth. Otherwise, the unexpected end of the world will take place," said Mesfin.

Desalegn warned that, unless the African group agrees on a common position within the next few weeks, it may be too late to make an effective negotiating stance at the Copenhagen climate summit.

The Addis Ababa meeting is in preparation for high level negotiations to be held next week on the sidelines of a special African summit in Tripoli. The summit on peace and security issues was called by the current AU Chairman, Libyan leader Muammar Gadhafi.