Talks stall as UN chief set to open climate change talks

Greenpeace activists and supporters along with other non-governmental organizations protest outside the Global Business Day conference in Durban on December 5, 2011. PHOTO / AFP

What you need to know:

  • Kenya says prospects of deal are bleak but is hopeful that Africa will eventually have its way

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon is on Tuesday expected to officially open the global climate change meeting as Kenya expressed confidence that developed countries will agree to a deal pushed by Africa.

The global climate change meeting known as COP17 and attended by about 196 countries, started last week but will be officially opened on Tuesday by Mr Moon.

The opening will also signal the beginning of high level negotiations in Durban, South Africa.

Talking to the Nation on Monday in Durban, Kenya’s Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Environment and Mineral Resources Mr Ali Mohammed said although prospects for reaching a progressive accord are so far bleak , there is still time for more negotiations.

Kenya’s delegation is led by the Minister for Environment and Mineral Resources, Mr John Michuki and comprises of more than 100 representatives including ministers Mohamed Elmi for Northern Kenya and Aridlands and Fredrick Gumo for Regional Development Authorities.

However, at the onset of the Durban negotiations last week, the US, Japan, Russia and Canada indicated they are not willing to sign a new agreement to replace the current Kyoto Protocol.

The protocol expires next year.

“ Given the African position, we are determined to reverse their thinking and convince them to sign into the second commitment of the Kyoto agreement,” said Mr Mohammed.

On Sunday, ministers from 50 African countries demanded an ambitious second commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol and the scaling up of finances from the developed countries to help poor nations cope with effects of climate change.

Greenhouse emissions

According to the UN climate chief Christiana Figueres, twelve heads of state and government and about 130 ministers are expected to attend the meeting during this second and final week of the negotiations.

African countries want developed nations to reduce their emissions of greenhouse gases by at least 40 per cent during the second commitment period from 2013 to 2017.

“By 2050, they must reduce them by at least 95 per cent,” said Mr Seyni Nafo, the spokesperson of the African group of negotiators, during a press conference in Durban on Monday.