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African Delegates Call For Stronger Greenhouse Gas Cuts


African Delegates Call For Stronger Greenhouse Gas Cuts
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A group of African delegates is blocking the last round of climate change talks before a major summit in Copenhagen next month. The Africans want richer nations to agree to more ambitious greenhouse gas reduction goals, among other measures.

Just a day after they opened, the climate change talks in Barcelona have stalled, as a group of about 50 African countries air their unhappiness about the cuts in greenhouse gas emissions that richer nations are prepared to make. Those cuts will be key to the success of a December summit in Copenhagen, aimed to reach a new climate change deal to replace the 1997 Kyoto Protocol.

So far, a number of richer nations have pledged cuts of between 11-25 percent of carbon dioxide emissions from 1990 levels by 2020. The European Union is committed to a 20 percent cut that could go up to 30 percent if other nations come on board. That, African negotiators said at a news conference Tuesday, is not enough. Kamel Djemouai of Algeria chairs the Africa group.

"For the African group...we are asking developed countries to commit themselves to at least 40 percent. That is the African position. There are LDCs and others that are asking for at least 45 percent. And we are just trying to defend this position," explained Djemouai.

African nations argue they are not responsible for rising CO2 levels -- Africa overall accounts for only a small fraction of greenhouse gas emissions. But they are on the front lines of climate change. Kenyan delegate Grace Akumu told reporters that drought has killed wildlife, livestock and people in her country. Other areas are experiencing flooding.

"Kenya is just an example I'm using. But other African countries are also experiencing different impacts but aggravated by the temperature increase. That's why we are calling on developed countries to take the lead and put the numbers on the table in order to move forward the negotiations," Akumu said.

She says African countries are also too poor to pay for many climate change mitigation measures, including renewable energy technology. That is another sticking point, as developed countries have not reached agreement on aid to poorer nations to adapt to climate change.